Canon has launched a partner apprenticeship programme which it hopes will have 30 apprentices working with partners in 2017, looking to push that number up to 70 apprentices in 2018.
The programme is run by Canon but the apprentices will be employed by its channel partners who sign up. Canon will provide the IT training in partnership with CompTIA. The apprentices will also attend classes within Canon's apprenticeship schemes where they will learn communication and business awareness skills.
The programme launched at the end of October, and six partners are currently signed up. No apprentices have been hired yet, but interviews are under way.
Adam Poole, B2B marketing director at Canon UK, said the programme was a way for the vendor to support its partners in finding new talent.
"For us it was a natural extension [from our apprenticeship programmes] to be able to use some of the learnings and programmes from our training schemes to enable partners to run their own apprenticeship schemes. We are supporting them in acquiring new talents into their business," he said.
"We want 30 apprentices in the first year and from the feedback we have already had from partners, I think we will easily reach that number. We wanted to come up with a number that satisfied the immediate need of the partners but also gave us a chance to pilot the programme and give us a group that was manageable enough to get some real feedback on how the programme is going."
The first set of apprentices will be focusing on IT skills around network analysis and helpdesk resources, with a view to include digital marketing and social media into the scheme in the second wave of apprentices.
"The reason for the focus on IT skills in the first wave was feedback from partners themselves," Poole said. "They were seeing a skills gap particularly around IT infrastructure and core networking skills. They said this was an area in which they were really struggling to recruit. Being able to go in and recruit and develop apprentices was often a more sustainable way for them to nurture and keep talent.
"The next phase is around digital marketing, social media and social selling; some of the more consultative selling skills that are needed when you are trying to sell complex IT solutions to organisations."
One of the channel partners to have already signed up to the programme is [email protected], whose managing director Ken Sturdy said that the Canon programme is the first he has seen that is "absolutely" relevant to the VAR.
"We have been a Canon partner for 30 years. I joined the business as an apprentice, so I've always been committed to growing our own staff," he said. "It is not always that easy to get an apprentice on the right training that is relevant to our business. So when Canon said they were working with CompTIA on running apprenticeships around IT accreditations, we thought this would be a great answer to our needs. We've struggled to get appropriate programmes for apprentices to follow, whereas the Canon programme is absolutely relevant to our business and our industry."
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