HP Institute to attack IT skills gap
The Silicon Valley giant believes it is leading the way in tackling the global IT skills shortage.
By Tom Brewster
HP today introduced an academic partnership programme designed to address the global IT skills shortage.
The Silicon Valley giant has partnered with exam and certification body Certiport to launch the HP Institute, which will hope to bring practical experience into educational bodies so graduates have job-ready skills.
HP will work with schools, colleges and universities to implement the courses.
In particular, the HP Institute will look to embed skills needed by small and medium-sized businesses.
It will do so by offering educational institutions a "complete learning solution," consisting of industry recognised certifications, a full curriculum and hands-on experience via a remote lab solution.
The HP Accredited Technical Associate (ATA) certifications will cover four areas that HP has considerable expertise in, including connected devices and client machines, networking, servers and storage, as well as cloud.
There will be four different levels of certification, including Associate, Professional, Expert and Master.
Nick Wilson, UK managing director for HP, said he hoped the course would train up 20,000 people in the coming years.
"By the time kids have reached 16 they have no desire to do stem skills... That's simply not good enough," Wilson said during the programme launch in London this afternoon.
"I don't think it is good enough that the industry stands by and says it is not good enough. I think we have to get involved.
"There is a skills gap and we have to fill it... We're massively trying to invest in education.
"Small business has got to innovate with their use of IT but they need the funding to do that."
He said HP also had to invest so its channel partners could get hold of the right skills. HP should take a big role in this, what with it being one of the biggest tech companies in the UK, Wilson added.
There will be two sides to the Institution as it will look at both the technical and business career aspects, so graduates can apply their IT skills and communicate the benefits of IT to business leaders.
Wilson said HP had to contribute more to maintain its good relationship with Government too, as it needs to impress if it wants to keep the Coalition happy.
"With the state of the economy in the UK, boy do we need this," Wilson added.
Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, praised the scheme, saying HP could play an important role in transforming tech education in the UK.
"The UK workforce stands to gain from initiatives such as the Institute programme which will help provide strategic direction and ensure that companies have the right skills to grow in this rapidly changing world," Cable added.
Brian Beneda, who will head up the HP Institute, said it was no longer good enough to employ people who come out of university with strong tech skills but no idea about how to apply them to business strategy.
"Businesses want people who have practical experience," Beneda added.
"How do we provide individuals who have both the working experience and the accreditation? That's the question we're trying to answer."
Tech becoming the new IT?
As for whether HP was actually helping fill the skills gap with automated, smart technology, rather than people, Beneda told IT Pro "absolutely that is occurring."
However, rather than completely replacing the need for IT folk, intelligent technology will simply change the skills people need.
"As we begin to automate, the frontier moves and the skill sets required move."
Despite the fact that there are few vendor-specific skills addressed in the programme - apart from HP, Microsoft and Adobe expertise - Beneda claimed the programme was designed to be multi-vendor.
"These certifications are not hardware specific," he added. "Our objective is not to go in and replace Cisco networking academies.
"Our objective is to say if you have good Cisco skills, come to HP and we'll show you how to integrate it with the end-to-end infrastructure.
"Do the Cisco academy, do the Microsoft element and wrap it all together."