ALET UTCs and Partners win Talent Developer of the Year award at Data Centre World

Publishing Date: Mar 13, 2024

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  • Industry/education partnership has won the Best Talent Developer award at Data Centre World for the second year running – its fourth global award overall
  • Award given in recognition of digital infrastructure focused curriculum, Digital Futures Programme
  • Former Ed Sec Lord Kenneth Baker opens VIP Student Zone


An industry/education collaboration designed to raise awareness of career opportunities in the digital infrastructure industry and tackle the talent shortage in the sector has won an award for the second consecutive year.

ALET UTCs & Partners was named the winner of the Best Talent Developer award at Data Centre World (ExCeL, London, 6 March) in recognition of the success the partnership has had in designing and launching the Digital Futures Programme (DFP). The world-first digital infrastructure focused curriculum launched in 2021 at UTC Heathrow, designed to equip students with the skills and expertise they need to start successful careers in the industry. The fast-growing industry is suffering an ongoing skills shortage – partly because many people are not even aware of what data centres are – which the DFP aims to help address by training up new talent.

Current students of the DFP, which is delivered as part of an Engineering BTEC, attended Data Centre World and undertook challenges, aided by mentors from the Trust Partner industry organisations that support ALET in delivering the programme, such as Amazon Web Services, CNet Training and CBRE. The challenges were designed to give students an insight into the industry and to test their softer skills by interacting with potential employers, presenting themselves professionally and communicating well in a business environment.

The students had the privilege of speaking with the Rt Hon Lord Kenneth Baker, a former Education Secretary and co-founder of the Baker Dearing Trust, which created and champions University Technical Colleges (UTCs). Lord Baker cut the ribbon to officially open the ALET UTCs & Partners VIP Student Zone – a hub of students, ALET staff and many of the Trust Partners who have been working with the students supporting the DFP. After spending time with the students, Lord Baker addressed the employer partners, saying:

Civilization depends on you, progress depends on you, and I’d like to thank all of you for supporting UTCs. Most students won’t have heard of data centres before. You all are major employers and literally, we won’t get economic growth in the country unless we roll out technical education, so what you are doing is very important.

The award win – one of four since the DFP launched – comes in a big year for ALET UTCs and Partners as it has recently announced plans to expand the DFP to all UTCs in the ALET trust – UTC Reading, UTC Oxfordshire and UTC Swindon as well as UTC Heathrow. This will result in around 600 students per academic year who will be starting their career journeys having had exposure to and technical education in network cabling and data centre specific skills.

Recognising that ALET UTCs & Partners, with their focus on digital infrastructure technical education and employer collaboration, are making real headway in tackling the talent shortage and attracting new talent to the industry, the judges awarded ALET UTCs & Partners the Best Talent Developer award.

Speaking on the win, CEO of Trust Partner CNet Training, Andrew Stevens, who was instrumental in getting the initiative off the ground, said it was: “Testament to the whole project that we won for the second year running. Everyone is continuing to work hard; we’re expanding the programme and more and more people are really seeing the benefit of what we are doing. We’re spreading the message, we’re investing in the community and helping social mobility. It’s a wonderful project and I ask everyone to support it and hopefully we’ll win it again next year.

Andrew was one of four Trust partners who spoke at panel session on Thursday 7 March about the talent shortage and the steps educators can take to address it.

ALET CEO Joanne Harper said: ‘The work of the Data Centre employers is truly inspiring; a model of collaboration for a brighter future for the industry as a whole; with the future skills pipeline at the heart of their work.  Students in our schools are privileged to benefit from the Digital Futures Programme, where employers support their education and inspire them to join the sector.


  • The Digital Futures Programme is aimed at 14-19-year-olds and contributes to a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Engineering (NQF). It has been designed by industry employers to equip students with the essential knowledge and skills needed to thrive in technical careers within the digital infrastructure industry, comprising the network cabling and data centre sectors.
  • The Trust Partners supporting the Digital Futures Programme are: Amazon Web Services, ARK Data Centres (Crown Hosting Data Centres Limited), CBRE, CNet Training (CNet), CyrusOne, Digital Realty, LMG, Virtus Data Centres and Yondr.
  • These Trust Partners are competitors in industry but have collaborated to work on an education initiative that not only makes youngsters aware of the variety of careers available in this notoriously secretive industry, but also trains them up in the skills they need to succeed.
  • Find out more about the programme at:
About CNet Training, An Uptime Education Company

CNet Training is the award-winning global leader of technical education for the Digital Infrastructure industry (comprising network infrastructure and data centre programs.) The company design and deliver programs in locations across the world and via live Instructor-led remote attendance classes. They also design and deliver vendor-specific programs for many of the world’s leading manufacturers of data centre and network infrastructure solutions.

Visit the DATACENTRE.ME Directory Listing for CNet Training, An Uptime Education Company here.



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