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Many more companies could benefit from IT apprentices

Many companies are desperate for more IT employees. And yet, by far the majority of IT apprentices must make do with training programmes at their school instead of at a company. The Lego Group and NetIP are two of the companies that have had positive experiences with IT apprenticeships. The Confederation of Danish Industry hopes that more companies will follow suit.
Jesper Kristiansen is one of the approx. 6-8 IT apprentices that the Lego Group normally employs. “There is always a void left when an IT student completes their apprenticeship with us,” says Lasse Stephansen, IT Support Consultant at the Lego Group.

Publiceret: 10.01.2018
Af Felix Bekkersgaard Stark mail

“I don’t understand why there aren’t more companies that have realised the benefits to hiring IT apprentices. Some companies are under the impression that students are mostly an inconvenience. But I find that our students contribute in each their own way right from the beginning, and we end up gaining some really talented employees whom we have helped shape,” says Martin Rotbøll, manager at NetIP, who currently has 17 IT apprentices under his wings.

NetIP has been training IT apprentices for ten years, and today, practically all of them are full-time employees at the company.

“Our company has offices in Thisted, Skive, Herning, Holstebro and, most recently, Aalborg and Aarhus, so we know very well how challenging it can be to attract qualified workers. By working consciously to create a good training programme, we’ve gained a really good reputation, which means that we don’t have any difficulty attracting talented students. We currently have a handful of apprentices from Thy, while the rest come from cities like Copenhagen and Aalborg to train with us,” explains Martin Rotbøll.

See also: Use praktikpladsen.dk to find students and document search

Apprentices are a breath of fresh air

At the Lego Group, they take pride in contributing to the training of future employees. The company has many apprentices within various fields – but normally also about 6-8 IT apprentices.

“As we get to know the students better, we find out whether they work best in an IT support role, or whether they would be suited for continuing training to become a data technician. If so, we have a conversation with them about that. We regularly have one-on-one conversations with a fixed agenda, where we discuss development interests, and on that basis we assess their opportunities for continuing their training at Lego,” explains Lasse Stephansen, IT Support Consultant at the Lego Group.

He sees apprenticeships as a natural part of the Lego Group’s social responsibility, and apprentices give a lot back to the company.

“All the young people are like a breath of fresh air for us, bringing in their generation’s perspective on things. In fact, personality and attitude are probably just as important for us as professional competence when we hire them. Of course, their competences need to be in order, but because they come here to learn, they don’t necessarily need to know everything, and they generally grow with the job, taking on the responsibility that we give them. We always feel a void when a student completes their apprenticeship with us, before the new students get properly into the swing of things,” says Lasse Stephansen.

See also: Many parents see industry as a place of smog, grime and aching backs

Many students in school-based apprenticeships

The IT apprentices at the Lego Group and NetIP come from the Data and Communications programme, which is the vocational route to becoming an IT worker in Denmark. In 2015, the number of students admitted to the programme was raised due to the growing demand among companies for employees with IT competences. But the number of apprenticeship programmes is lagging behind, explains Lone Folmer Berthelsen, Director of Vocational Education and Training at the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).

“The good news is that there is a huge interest in the programme among young people and a major demand for trained data technicians. Unfortunately, four out of ten students end up doing apprenticeships at the vocational schools’ own training centres rather than out at a company. It’s a shame, because the strength of the vocational educations is that theory can immediately be applied in practice, thanks to the interplay between schools and businesses,” says Lone Folmer Berthelsen.

The Data and Communication programme has a dual structure in which students can specialise in either infrastructure or programming. The programme takes three to six years to complete. In October 2017, 1,475 students were in apprenticeships with companies, while 1,091 students were at training centres at the country’s vocational schools. And that is too many, Lone Folmer Berthelsen insists.

“One explanation could be that many companies with IT jobs automatically tend to focus more on IT programmes at universities and don’t have as much experience with taking in apprentices as is the case in the manufacturing and construction industries, for example. But in the future, if we are to reap the full benefits of the young people who are interested in IT but prefer a vocational education, it is necessary for companies to break old habits,” says Lone Folmer Berthelsen.

See also: Eager apprentice looks forward to rising with the sun

A practical and updated education

Simon Korsgaard Heuer is 18 years old and has spent the past six months working as an IT apprentice at NetIP in Thisted. He is glad to be able to follow his dreams through a vocational education here.

“I’ve been interested in computers for a long time and have spent a lot of time taking them apart and reassembling them. What I like about taking a vocational education is that I constantly have the chance to put the things I learn into practice. At the moment, I’m working at NetIP’s service desk, where I listen in, learn new things and take calls from customers myself. I had been here less than a week when I took my first call - and I’m already helping teach the newest apprentices the things I’ve learned,” says Simon Korsgaard Heuer, who is hoping to be employed full time as an IT consultant at NetIP once he has completed the data technician programme in three years.

Martin Rotbøll from NetIP believes that more companies would take on IT apprentices like Simon if they knew more about the programme and its advantages.

“One of the things we really appreciate about the programme is that its content is continuously adjusted based on response from the companies that take in apprentices. Outdated parts are taken out and replaced with new, relevant things, and that is valuable in a sector like ours, where development happens extremely fast,” he says.

The good news is that there is a huge interest in the programme among young people and a major demand for trained data technicians.

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PUBLISHED: 1/10/2018 LAST MODIFIED: 1/10/2018