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Tech Data invests in apprenticeship scheme

The distie’s new technical apprenticeship scheme will provide fresh skills development and career opportunities for participating staff, and deliver even higher standards of technical service and value to channel partners

Tech Data has launched an IT hardware technical apprenticeship scheme and is hoping to mirror the success of its training for new salespeople, which is now in its third year. A cohort of seven, drawn from Tech Data colleagues who have been with the company for some time and others who are relatively new, have been enrolled on the scheme. Over the next 15 months, they will be put through a series of training modules that will enable them to acquire the skills to deliver good technical services and advice.

The training modules will cover a variety of disciplines, technologies and vendors, some of which will be provided by CompTIA. They will include foundation courses in cybersecurity and DevOps, and ITIL4 project management training. Apprentices will finish the course with six recognised technical accreditations.

Andy Brown
Andy Brown

Promoting from within
Technical Services Director Andy Brown, said: “We had already adopted a policy of promoting from within and that evolved into the idea of a full-blown apprenticeship scheme. The sales programme has been a great success and we’re hoping we can reach the same high standards with the technical version.

The initiative is all about making sure Tech Data is focused on the customer. Brown continued: “This is a positive investment in the professional development of our colleagues and a commitment to helping them develop their capabilities and careers. Ultimately, it is all about delivering the highest standards and quality of service and support to our reseller partners.”

Emulate past success
The new IT hardware technical apprenticeship scheme will aim to emulate the success of Tech Data’s existing sales-focused apprenticeship programme.

In September last year, Tech Data was rated 15th in the RateMyApprenticeship’s Top 100 Employers Table after achieving excellent levels of success in only its second year of running an apprenticeship scheme – up from 60th the previous year.

Of the 13 apprentices who embarked on the 2020 programme, nine have moved into full-time roles with three of the others deciding to go on to university instead. Of the 2019 cohort, seven remain with some already moving into business development or category management posts.

 Sandie Jackson
Sandie Jackson

Sandie Jackson, Apprenticeship Programme Manager at Tech Data UK commented that the ranking was a tremendous achievement given that the sales-focused apprenticeship has been running for such a short time. She believes its success is down to a combination of a positive attitude, detailed preparation and harnessing natural energy reserves.

“Tech Data make the apprentices feel at home,” she said, adding: “The sales apprentices follow a carefully planned and structured programme. They learn about their own strengths and weaknesses, plus how to work as a team and know that they can have a long and successful career here. One of the experiences they like the best is the Outward Bound Course at Eskdale in the Lake District.

“Capturing the enthusiasm, encouraging drive, getting the buy-in from managers across the business to support the scheme and only releasing the apprentices to teams when they are ready are also important.”

Jackson has been instrumental in helping to devise and implement the new IT hardware technical apprenticeship programme and will be working with the Tech Data advanced solutions team to monitor progress and ensure the achievement of personal and company objectives.

Recruit on potential
As well as young people who are just starting out on their careers, Tech Data has an active programme of encouraging new entrants into the industry and is always emphasising that it is not only for the technically-minded.

Sales Director Martin Boyce, said: “The roles you can play in the IT industry are really diverse – from sales and marketing to law and finance – and we should be promoting that rather than the technology focus. We recruit on potential and make sure that we promote those broad opportunities to progress different careers in the apprenticeship scheme and other programmes. Getting the very best young people into the industry early and then developing them is really important.”