Global Award-winning Industry Education Collaboration Initiative Scales Up Following Success at UTC Heathrow
The University Technical College (UTC) Heathrow and Partners initiative, which sees leading industry employers working in collaboration alongside education to create a solution to the industry’s ongoing skills shortage, is expanding its reach to three further locations, following overwhelming success at its first digital infrastructure focused school, UTC Heathrow.
The initiative launched the UK’s first data centre focused curriculum, the Digital Futures Programme, at UTC Heathrow in 2021. Aimed at 14-19-year-olds, the programme, which contributes to a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Engineering (NQF), is 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.
Following overwhelming success, Activate Learning Education Trust (ALET), which incorporates UTC Heathrow, is now launching the Digital Futures Programme in a further three of its UTCs: UTC Reading, UTC Oxford and UTC Swindon. Each UTC can accept 150 students per year onto the Digital Futures Programme. Across the four ALET UTCs, this will result in a total of 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.
The roll-out was officially launched at an event attended by nine of the employer partners – Amazon Web Services, ARK Data Centres, CBRE, CNet Training, CyrusOne, Digital Realty, LMG, Virtus Data Centres and Yondr – at UTC Reading on Friday 26 January. These nine employer partners have committed to supporting all ALET UTCs that will be delivering the Digital Futures Programme and will be known as ALET Trust Partners.
Since inception, the initiative has been recognised with three global awards, including the Datacloud Global Awards Education and Employment Project Award of the Year and Data Centre World Best Talent Developer. Industry partners not only provide support financially and in developing the curriculum, but also by giving valuable time to deliver a mix of employer-led projects, challenge days, masterclasses and skills workshops to the students as part of the programme.
More importantly, the programme is already having an impact, with the first set of graduates from UTC Heathrow taking up apprenticeship roles with industry partners as a direct result of the programme. This is hugely important to tackling the ongoing skills shortage across the digital infrastructure industry. Activate Learning Education Trust (ALET) and its supporting partners are proactively working to educate students in these important, transferable skills, helping to build a stronger, more sustainable future for the industry, as well as highlighting a new and rewarding career path option to the students.
Jo Harper, CEO of ALET, said: “The UK is facing an unprecedented skills shortage: we need engineers, computer scientists and other digitally-skilled staff. The Digital Futures Programme is focused on equipping students with the skills to succeed in the digital industries, bringing together companies which are serious about acting to address the skills shortage with STEM-focused schools with specialisms in digital, engineering and science prepared to forge a new path for their students.”
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.
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