Microsoft to help create 3,000 IT jobs and train low-skilled workers

Microsoft will help create 3,000 jobs across the IT industry, as part of a campaign launched today to counter rising unemployment.

The IT giant has told Personnel Today it aims to act as a bridge between the government’s skills system and the 32,000 smaller IT businesses that it works with, to enable them to offer 3,000 apprenticeship places over the next three years.

The firm has signed a Local Employment Partnership contract with Jobcentre Plus, to take people undergoing government-funded training in technical support roles and place them in jobs at one of its IT partners.

Stephen Uden, head of skills and economic affairs at Microsoft, told the magazine: “We will enable our partners to access talent through rolling out a national apprenticeship scheme. We are interfacing between the small businesses that we work with and the government’s skills system. Our partners may read about government spending on apprentices but feel they dont know how to access that, so this allows them to tap into the support available.”

The campaign, called Britain Works, comes just days after the government launched Backing Young Britain, urging employers to invest in 16- to 24-year-olds despite the tough economic climate.

Uden said he hoped other employers would follow suit and do what they could to help speed up economic recovery.

“It’s in the interest of all big companies to do what they can to help the UK move forward into recovery, and to help more people into jobs which will mean there’s more consumers for all our products. We’re helping IT skills and hopefully other firms will do things in other areas.”

The campaign, which has already been trialled in the West Midlands, will also target the 10 million people in the UK that have little or no computer skills. Microsoft will provide about 450,000 training vouchers to low-skilled people giving them access to courses offering ‘digital literacy’, for example how to use Windows or a keyboard.

The firm is working with charities and non-governmental organisations such as disability group Leonard Cheshire to reach out to the unemployed and those classified as ‘Neets’ – not in employment, education or training.

Uden said, however, that Microsoft will not be looking to employ apprenticeships as part of this campaign as most of the opportunities available at the firm generally begin at graduate level.

He added that this year a record 5,000 people applied for Microsoft’s graduate jobs and internships, for up to 25 and 100 positions respectively.

“We’ve noticed since the credit crunch there’s been far more people coming to us and also very good quality people. There’s been a good mix of diverse backgrounds applying. That may be because traditional avenues [employers] some people might have considered aren’t taking people on so readily, and people are looking at wider options – that has benefited us.”

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