The IT Academy in perspective
To secure the long-term requirements for ICT skills across the workforce, employers across Europe feel that vast systemic improvements must be made within the education sector in order for graduates to enter the market more capable of utilizing ICT in their daily jobs. (IDC, Nov 2009)
The Spanish National Statistics Institute reported in January 2011 that the country’s unemployment rate stood at 20.33 percent at the end of 2010. The current unemployment rate for people under the age of 35 is 45%.
To that end, a high proportion of Spain’s employability initiatives in some of the 17 regional governments are aimed at retraining the unemployed population to become ‘job ready’ as well as re-skilling the existing workforce on the IT skills employers require; from specialist programs to usage of common applications such as word processing and spreadsheets. The Centro de Tecnologías Avanzadas in Aragon (CTA) is a perfect example of how the Microsoft IT Academy program is being leveraged to skill citizens in parallel with this goal. “We know that industry acknowledgment of Microsoft certifications provides improved access to quality jobs in the 21st century workplace.” states Ana Bermudez, the Director General of INAEM (Aragon’s Employment and Training Agency).
The migration towards more high-skilled workers in the EU labour market, expected to reach 16 million by 2020 and a decline of low skilled workers to 12 million requires a concerted skills upgrading and (re)training of the existing workforce. IT Academy (ITA) offers a flexible and scalable learning platform available to students, educators, and staff in more than 160 countries and over 300 institutions in Spain alone. The learning and resources available through ITA are easily customized to meet the needs of CTA training staff and students to attract students to the path of lifelong learning.
The regional employment agency of Aragon’s decision to support a complete portfolio of official Microsoft IT training to provide the region with IT qualified professionals is articulated here by Ana: “Seven years ago, we realized that we needed a program that combined skills training with internationally accredited certification, creating a new pool of highly preferred candidates prepared for the workforce. This was one of the crucial factors leading to our choice to become a Microsoft IT Academy. There is no doubt that the new Information Society has become one of the most important sectors of the economy by creating new jobs, boosting growth and improving competitiveness of enterprises and territories.’’
After completing courses at CTA, 84,3% of people trained on Microsoft technologies found a job within 6 months. A further 73% believe this training directly impacted their search for employment and among the students who took courses to advance their career, 92.7% quoted that they had improved their job conditions as a result of the training and certification they acquired. Access to better quality employment opportunities is a strong strand of the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs, the IT Academy training platform illustrates a scaleable industry response to the challenge of talent and human capital for the new world of work.
Centro de Tecnologías Avanzadas has found the best form of training is instructor-led, complemented by anytime/anywhere eLearning available through the IT Academy Program. Instructors believe the choice of materials and flexible learning methods best complement the varied learning styles of their pupils.
Ana adds ‘’Formal training platforms must fit the changing labour market, but it is “indispensable” to empower learners themselves with fast, versatile and quickly modifiable tools which provide an immediate proximity to industry and innovation trends.’’
Students range in age, from recent graduates of vocational colleges who feel the need to improve their chances for gaining employment , to employed individuals who wish to further develop their IT professional skills to expand their opportunities through a pay-rise or higher level job role within their own organization or across other sectors.
Oswaldo Gimeno Bodoba, a CTA student explains, “Certification is increasingly valued, sometimes even more than a professional or college degree.” He believes certification clearly demonstrates the suitability of a candidate to a more specific technical job. At CTA, the courses are based on industry demand, covering topics such as productivity tools like Excel, to cloud computing or virtualization. “The IT market is one of the most dynamic and offers one of the most stable situations by now; you just have to look at the job offers in the major job boards, asking for programmers, systems specialists and networking.”
The government of Aragon distinguishes its region by supporting the ICT industry and embracing organizations such as HP and EDS Omega who provide support both locally and internationally as well as the logistics center for the high speed railway network. There is a multitude of job roles that require both basic as well as advanced ICT skills from project management, systems or database administrators to developers or consultants.
“Our opinion is that the best-positioned professionals are those who have been certified, which serves to provide them with an optimal base for pursuing a professional career and the professional credentials to validate their knowledge. This certification offers recognition declaring them a specialist in that subject.’’ quotes Ana. The numbers speak for themselves.
Providing an end-to end employability package to help more students of all ages accommodate to the new world of work and the associated digital skills in demand, the IT Academy (Insert link) is worth considering!”
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