Region: North Tyneside
Advisor: Barbara Clark
As Generation NE paves the way for North East businesses to grow, an international technology firm is already benefiting from giving young people the chance to kick-start their careers, whilst future-proofing its business in the process.
Following the successful introduction of Accenture’s apprenticeship programme in the North East in 2012, the firm has already recruited over 50 apprentices in the region alone, offering young people employment opportunities to help fill the skills gap in the IT industry and become part of the UK’s path to economic recovery.
The programme has since been extended to London, Warwick and Newbury with almost 100 apprentices now on board throughout the UK.
Three years ago, after a period of growth at its North Tyneside office at Cobalt Business Park, Accenture needed to expand its skilled workforce to support the demand for technology services from clients.
Bob Paton, managing director at Accenture’s Newcastle Delivery Centre, was keen to grow future talent from within, and started the company’s hunt for applicants with no specific qualifications, but with a genuine interest in technology and how it is applied in the business world. Candidates also needed to be able to manage working and studying at the same time.
Bob said: “The university route is not right for everyone. At Accenture, we understand that and don't close the door on young people if traditional higher education isn't for them.
“From day one, our apprentices earn a salary while developing expert IT skills at Newcastle College in the first year of the programme, and Northumbria University in years two and three.
“It is great to see five North East Local Authorities and the NELEP coming together to launch Generation NE. As a company we’ve seen first-hand how both businesses and young people can benefit from the real-life work experience that an apprenticeship programme can offer, while allowing businesses to bring a fresh new outlook to the company. I would urge any SME which wants to enhance and rejuvenate their business to contact the team of business advisers. Young people are the future.”
Accenture’s three-year apprenticeship programme combines structured IT training complemented by on-the-job learning, as apprentices work towards achieving either a Higher Apprenticeship for IT, a Level 4 BTEC Diploma or a Foundation Degree.
Ellie Gangel, 18 from North Tyneside, decided to apply for Accenture’s apprenticeship programme last year after receiving a recommendation from a friend already enrolled in the scheme. She said: “Before starting my apprenticeship with Accenture I had an interest in IT but didn’t think I had the right skills to secure a place on an apprenticeship scheme.
“I was so happy to be given a chance and found that computer skills came naturally to me because of the tech-savvy generation I’ve been brought up in. Learning the job in a real working environment has hugely boosted my confidence and set me on the right track for a successful career in the technology industry.
“The structure of the apprenticeship programme is fantastic and I can’t believe how much I’ve learnt in just five months thanks to all the great training I’ve received so far.”
Lewis Reed, 22 from Whitley Bay, was interested in starting an apprenticeship with Accenture thanks to the company’s real-life work experience method of learning after deciding university wasn’t right the route for him following two years of studying computer science.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to work in the IT industry and initially assumed that going to university was the only way I could achieve this, but after starting my course I knew that I wouldn’t get to where I wanted to be through university.
“Being part of the working environment at Accenture, trusted with my own day-to-day responsibilities has helped me to mature so much. I’ve learnt a lot from my colleagues, things I would never have learnt in a classroom.
“I’ve been given so many great opportunities thanks to my apprenticeship. The highlight so far was getting to travel to India to work in Accenture’s offices there, it was such an amazing experience.”