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As part of the Britain Works program, Microsoft’s DPE and Citizenship teams have been working with training company QA and e-skills UK to develop a year-long Modern Apprenticeship in Software Development.
According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, small and medium-sized enterprises (between 0 and 249 employees) accounted for 99.9% of all enterprises in 2011. In their Quarterly Labour Market Review, e-skills UK state that there are fewer candidates and a rising number of IT job openings. The number of advertised vacancies for IT&T staff rose to 105,000 positions with the primary roles sought by employers being Design and Development jobs.
Trinity a Microsoft Gold partner was one of the first partners to get involved in the Microsoft Apprentice Program. They are a medium size business which offer a Range of IT services including; outsourcing deals, offer one off consultancy, development and installations for organisations in both the public and private sector. We had the opportunity to chat Chris Drinan (JT) and Ben Freedman, Junior Developer who participated in the apprentice program to find out how Trinity got involved and the overall benefits of the program to both the company and the apprentice.
Trinity got involved in the apprentice program very early on as the CEO, Steve McDonagh was particularly keen on getting people straight out of school and into the work place. They found that by taking on university graduates the skills they picked up were often not immediately applicable to the workplace. Steve shared his thoughts about the idea of a software apprentice program with Microsoft and a few other gold partners. The idea evolved and Trinity were invited by Dominic Gill from Microsoft and Ben Sweetman at QA to go along to some early think tanks on what kind of training could be useful on the programme. QA helped develop the apprenticeship program with formalised training, recruitment of apprentices and also managed to secure some government Investment.
Trinity hosted one of the first regional selection days in Coventry, 12 people invited and 9 turned up on the day of which Ben was one of them and ended up being chosen for the position at Trinity. There are 800 applicants on the programme nationwide. Chris said ‘The selection process was difficult, what you were eyeing up is the candidates potential because at that stage they haven't had any proven experience at all.’
However taking on Ben was a huge benefit to his team and Trinity as bringing on an apprentice means that you are able to train them up with the way the company does things without any bad habits that they could have picked up along the way. Offering this huge opportunity to a 16 year old straight out of school will mean there is a strong tendency that they will become very loyal employees.
Ben was always interested in ICT and was keen to find an opportunity where he could learn on the job. There were very limited opportunities so Ben enrolled on college course whilst still looking for an apprenticeship. When he found this one he was really interested and already had a little development background through playing with VB and Scripts. Ben applied for the role and was offered the apprenticeship with Trinity.
During the apprenticeship, Ben demonstrated to the whole development team that he was more than capable of learning his role at Trinity. He has passed 3 MS certifications and has a MCTS already! He is now on the track to be coming an MCPD (professional developer). Being early days, he is still developing his skills and still has a big learning curve ahead of him however he has established his credibility within the team. Ben has recently completed the apprenticeship and is now a junior developer Trinity. They have not yet brought on any other apprentices at the moment but plan on taking someone else on later this year.
Ben also really benefited from the apprenticeship. Ben said, ‘I wasn’t sure what to expect, it was all completely new, but wanted to get working knowledge and be trained. The apprenticeship far exceeded my expectations.’ There were so many opportunities for Ben to learn and develop. He went on residential training courses every 8 weeks, participated in regular onsite training, 1 to 1 tuition with a tutor available to help.
One of the challenges Chris mentioned was Ben did not have any peers that could related to what he was doing. All permanent staff at Trinity were over 27 and Ben was only 17. There was quite a generation gap. Chris would recommend to other employers thinking of taking on an apprentice that if their IT department is large enough to consider taking on 2 apprentices at a time, for peer support and encourage a bit of competition between them. He also said that it is important not to stick them in the corner and forget about them. Somebody has to be delegated to act as a mentor. Mentoring can be difficult when everyone's busy but it is worth the time effort.
Through the program Ben has learned a lot, he has developed customer service skills, taken on a lot more responsibilities and feels he has grown personally, academically and in the workplace. His advice any person thinking of going on an apprenticeship was ‘Have an open mind, be confident as it is quite nerve wracking at first but no-one expects too much, you're only 16! Don't be afraid to ask stupid questions but there's no stupid questions, only stupid answers.’ Ben hopes to become a successful developer! Continue to enhance his knowledge and to build successful projects for Trinity and their customers. Trinity are very keen to continue supporting these schemes and Microsoft initiatives.
‘I would recommend any IT department to participate in the Microsoft Apprentice Program, you don't have to be gold partners, can be any organisation. It's worth trying out and 16 year olds aren't all hoodies and hanging round bus stops and in the park! This program is a viable way of securing long term employees.’
Stena recognised an opportunity to upgrade their current Web Content Management System (WCMS) for four of their business units' public-facing websites to SharePoint 2010. ClearPeople had already delivered a SharePoint Document Management solution to Stena and because of their extensive experience with WCMS solutions and specialisation with SharePoint, ClearPeople were an ideal partner for this project.
Each of Stena's internal business units have a public facing website run by marketing teams within each department. A cross-organisational problem was that often the existing web solution required intervention from IT to make any changes. This prevented the timely and efficient management of content. Stena needed to select a solution that would solve the shortterm challenge of making content easier to manage. Stena also needed to support future requirements such as adding social media features to make their sites more engaging.
SharePoint was selected after a like-for-like comparison where it came out as the best value-for money over the competition. The marketing team selected SharePoint for its consistent user experience and ribbon feature, which now means that little training is required and the sites can be updated more quickly and efficiently. For the IT team, using SharePoint for both Stena's intranet and public facing websites, has meant that they have less platforms to support. SharePoint is also a strong platform for running multiple web sites and has strong integration capabilities. ClearPeople redeveloped the existing design and functionality for four of Stenas'
The main challenge for ClearPeople, was to migrate the websites, detailed below, from Microsoft CMS 2002 to SharePoint 2010. The goal was to ensure that the transition onto a new platform would be seamless for both web visitors and Stena's internal team. Furthermore, ClearPeople has extensive experience implementing websites in multiple languages and so were able to leverage this skill set to deliver one of the few SharePoint 2010 sites with multilingual capabilities. The web sites are: www.stena.com (English & Swedish) www.stenasessan.se (Swedish) www.stenarealty.com (English only) www.stenateknik.com (English & Swedish)
The following deliverables were provided:
The final solution included a comprehensive hand over of custom code and referenced code libraries developed by ClearPeople to Stena's own developers. ClearPeople conducted the hand over on-site to the global IT team in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Stena's content editors report that transitioning to SharePoint's ribbon based content management system was a welcomed changed. They are now able to update content without the assistance of IT, which makes their websites more relevant and useful for their intended audience. The design and existing content was migrated without issue, and the multilingual capabilities between Swedish and English enabled. Based on the success of migrating these four websites, Stena has plans to carry over other websites in the upcoming year.
Efficiency - ability to change and manage the sites without relying on IT Agility - able to extend and update sites to respond to evolving customers needs Flexibility - to make the sites more interesting and engaging Affordability - fit within the budget for existing and upcoming projects, as well as be able to add more sites effectively and at a lower cost
About ClearPeople Established in 2003, ClearPeople is a Microsoft Gold Competency Partner and one of the UK’s leading technology services companies specialising in the consultation, development and support of Microsoft SharePoint. ClearPeople’s experienced technical and creative teams provide solutions that are tailored to the specific and unique needs of their clients that are underpinned by robust and flexible technologies.
If you are looking for more Case Studies on Microsoft technologies like this one, pop over to our case studies site where you will find lots of informative and useful case studies.
Mark your calendars and to join us on March 8th, 2012 for the global launch of SQL Server 2012!
The SQL Server 2012 Virtual Launch is an exclusive, online event designed to give you an overview of the exciting new capabilities of and new opportunities around SQL Server 2012, while directly connecting you to customers. Maurice Martin, Server UK Lead, will welcome you to the event where you will discover how early adopters, customers, and partners are already benefitting from these new capabilities in SQL Server 2012! You will be able to visit the partner pavilion where 10 UK partners will be showcase further the benefits of the new release. SQL Server 2012 is a highly anticipated technology ensures mission critical confidence with greater uptime, blazing fast performance, and enhanced security features; breakthrough insights with managed self-service data exploration and interactive data visualizations; and cloud on your terms with extended on-premise and public cloud solutions.
Go Further. Forward. Faster. - with Microsoft SQL Server 2012!
· Registration is now open! Visit the event site and register your team.
· Add the reminder to your calendar.
· Invite your customers using our customizable invite
· Follow the launch via Twitter @SQLServer.
We’ve been putting a fair bit of Azure content up recently and following on with that theme I thought it would be good to share some upcoming free training events that may be of interest to you. We will be running a series of lunchtime sessions from local UK experts where you can get up to speed and get your questions answered.
A couple of these events are more developer focused don’t be put off. Many of you are more focused on the servers, architecture and ROI for these tools and as such there is an architect and business decision maker session that I thought might be relevant. The other two events are for you to pass on to your developers in case they haven’t heard about the events already.
Tuesday, 20 March - A Newcomer’s Introduction to Windows Azure.
This free online event runs from 12.00 – 2.00pm and is suitable for a developer who is either new to Windows Azure or has not yet had any exposure to it.
Wednesday, 21 March - An Experienced Developer’s guide to Windows Azure.
This free online event runs from 12.00 – 2.00pm and is suitable for a developer who is experienced with Windows Azure. You have written and deployed some code but you’d like to now get a feel for what it’s like to actually deliver projects on this platform.
Thursday, 22nd March - An Architect & Business Decision-Maker’s guide to Windows Azure.
This free online event runs from 12.00 – 2.00pm and is a “warts and all” event where there are 2 case studies of organisations who have made the move to a Windows Azure Platform
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The initial wave of sessions have just gone live for TechEd Europe. Whilst this isn’t the final list of sessions it should give some idea of who’s going to be there and what sessions are available. Keep checking the TechEd Europe website for regular updates and additional speakers as they tend to be added in waves.
If you are looking for a quick way to justify coming to this event then show your boss the quantity and quality of the training on offer and the calibre of the speakers. Talk to people who have been to TechEd Europe before through the TechEd Europe Facebook page and get world class training.
Here’s a sneak peak at a few of the speakers that are featuring at the event.
The sessions are split into tracks to help navigate through the raft of content that is available at the conference and it should help you to decide which content you would like to see.
If you are planning on coming to TechEd Europe let us know either on Twitter or Facebook! We look forward to seeing you there! It’s usually an awesome event! You can also find your fellow attendees on the TechEd Europe Facebook page and Twitter account.
Don’t waste a moment and get yourself registered before the end of March to qualify for the early bird discount!
We’ve been keeping you on your toes this last week with plenty of fresh new content. We’ve had everything from case studies through to event announcements and details on how the English language is to be preserved. Don’t miss out on all the great news and information. Sign up to our Newsletter, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.
We’re off to Leeds this week with the first of our IT Camps, so look out for fresh new content on that!