Cisco has revealed it expects 50 partners and customers to participate in its new apprenticeship scheme in its first year.
The programme, which is designed to increase the supply of talent in the UK IT networking space, was unveiled in March in conjunction with the National Apprenticeship Service, with the first batch of young people set to enrol in September.
Backed by training providers QA and Global Knowledge, it is broken down into an advanced programme that includes a Cisco CCNA certification and a higher programme that includes a Cisco CCNP certification. It is aimed specifically at Cisco partners and customers.
Talking to CRN, Ian Foddering, chief technology officer at Cisco UK and Ireland, said the scheme will help attract raw talent to the channel at a time when fewer 18-year-olds are choosing to stay on at univeristy.
The UK IT sector currently needs 100,000 new entrants a year, Foddering (pictured, below) said.
"Demand for IT is the highest it has ever been and will continue to grow. We need that talent to come in to fulfil the dreams of Cisco and our partners," he said.
Despite its modest aims initially, Foddering said the programme will rapidly ramp up to offer several hundred places annually.
Participating partners will hire the candidates and pay their salaries but can claw back some if not all the training costs are met through government funding, depending on the apprentice's age, Foddering said.
The initial Level Three, advanced programme lasts for 12 months, after which the reseller has the choice of taking on the apprentice permanently or entering them into the two-year, Level Four, higher programme. This would net them a prized CCNP badge.
"From a Cisco perspective, the higher level is highly attractive as they will come out with a very, very valuable certification," Foddering said.
"We are talking to a number of partners that are actively pursuing this."
Separately, Cisco will introduce a Cisco apprenticeship scheme internally from 2014.
It will replace the standard apprenticeship scheme the networking juggernaut has been running for the past couple of years.
Foddering suggested that eventually there could be cross-pollination between the two schemes.
"Once this is up and running, the next step is to ask whether we can rotate them around by taking Cisco apprentices and placing them into a partner for three to six months and vice versa. This would give them a much more rounded experience."
Foddering said the government's decision to hoist tuition fees last year was an important factor in its decision to complement its graduate training scheme with a programme targeting school leavers.
"We recognised that tuition fees, whatever your political view, were challenging the way students view going to university, but there is still raw talent out there."
Talent can come from unlikely sources, Foddering added, giving the example of a former hairdresser Cisco had taken on who is now working in Cisco's partner organisation supporting resellers in their use of demo facilities.
"One of the apprentices we brought on board came from a non-traditional IT background," he said. "She started off as a hairdresser and then worked at the information desk at Heathrow Terminal 5. She always had a talent and was interested in IT and came out on top in the exercises we did. Some 18 months down the line it's interesting considering her background where she is.
"It is very easy to say you have to have done an IT GCSE but that can cut you off from some really talented people. We are looking for raw talent and enthusiasm and a capacity to learn. I would highly recommend [apprenticeships] to partners as it brings in some fantastic talent and fresh ideas."
Businesses also admit to holding data without permission of subjects
Zedsphere says end-point security vendor's offerings will be a 'key' feature of its wider portfolio
New acquisition will bring UK cloud service provider's global headcount to over 700
Law firm claims that Oracle lied to investors over what is driving its cloud revenue growth and boosted sales through 'threats and extortive tactics'