by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

An IT apprenticeship scheme originally created by nine businesses in the Mid-Ulster, North West and North Antrim areas has proven so successful that its founders have launched a Northern Ireland wide scheme for 2020.   Career Encode*, which sets out to fill a skills gap in the IT sector, allows school leavers and those wishing to change careers to embark on a career in IT without the financial pressure of paying college fees.


 

 

Successful applicants will obtain an internationally recognised Foundation Degree qualification accredited by Ulster University and receive a full salary.

 

The nationwide rollout of the scheme was showcased at an event at Catalyst Ecos Innovation Centre in Ballymena today (TUESDAY 22 OCTOBER), where firms already taking part discussed the benefits of the initiative since it was launched as a pilot in 2018. They called on their peers to join the programme.

 

Michael Morrow, General Manager North America, CDE Global, Cookstown is one of those companies. He said: “As a growing company with global ambition, CDE relies on data for our complex manufacturing operations. Career Encode is helping us to develop the skills we need in our IT department to power this growth.”

 

Jolene Carey, Human Resources Officer, Randox in Crumlin, has also taken on apprentices as part of the initiative. She said: “IT underpins the delivery and support of all our mission-critical services. Our IT team is constantly exposed to the latest innovations and the Career Encode programme is an important part of our development plan for new talent.”

 

Working in collaboration with Northern Regional College, the scheme has already appointed 12 new IT apprentices who will build careers within a rapidly growing sector, which, according to the Skills Barometer Report 2019, compiled by Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, will grow by 50% over the next decade. 

 

With this in mind Career Encode is seeking more Northern Ireland businesses to sign up to the scheme to ensure the IT talent resource here is not outpaced by demand.

 

Camilla Long, Director of Bespoke Communications, which specialises in training and leadership development, is acting as an independent facilitator for the existing 11 employers on the scheme.

 

She said: “One of the biggest hurdles for businesses today is sourcing staff, particularly IT staff. This scheme allows participating companies to take the IT skills gap into their own hands by developing a future workforce for their business. 

“We had a phenomenal response to the first initiative with 89 young people of exceptionally high standards vying for 12 apprenticeships. We anticipate that the demand for next year’s intake will be so much higher. 

 

“The benefits for participating companies are about much more than alleviating technology staffing needs. Being part of Career Encode sends out a message to the next generation that you provide a workplace with a positive working culture that nurtures long-term career goals all while allowing you to develop employees with the skillset that you need for your future.”

 

Elaine Smyth, Director of Innovation Community, Catalyst which is one of the scheme’s venue partners added: “Career Encode speaks to the aspirations of young people and encourages them to take control of their own career journey.  This aligns to Catalyst vision to fuel opportunity and create a supportive community of employers and apprentices building the skills we need for the future.”

 

Jayne Taggart, Chief Executive, Enterprise Causeway, another of the initiative’s venue partners added: “Enterprise Causeway supports a growing ecosystem of businesses in Causeway Coast and Glens. Digital transformation is increasingly important for business growth. We’re pleased to support Career Encode to fuel career aspirations for our young people by matching them with progressive employers who can benefit from their skills.”

 

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Camilla Long, Director of Bespoke Communications and independent facilitator for Career Encode; Marion Murphy, Managing Director, Mallon Technology, one of the participating Career Encode companies; Dawid Lysakowski , Apprentice Software Engineer; Ruairi O’ Neill, Senior Software Developer; Camden Group, Antrim

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