Robert Blenkisnop joins PDMS on a new MICTA apprenticeship scheme launched in the Isle of Man

We are delighted to welcome Robert to PDMS and both Robert and our Infrastructure and Facilities Manager, Neal Kelly, featured in a recent article about the MICTA scheme:

Manx businesses are buying into a new apprenticeship scheme for the ICT sector.

The Manx ICT Association (ICT standing for Information & Communication Technology) is acting as the facilitator for Manx firms to take on apprentices. A number of its member businesses have signed up to employ apprentices, paying them a salary while their day-release training at newly branded University College, Isle of Man (UCM) is being funded by the Department of Economic Development.

Apprentices have started to take up positions at a wide number of companies and MICTA chief executive Kurt Roosen said businesses had already signalled their intent to build on inter-company co-operation built up through the formation of the scheme to share training expertise and support where appropriate.

‘Through our work at MICTA, we became aware there was a demand from both employers and potential employees for apprenticeship programmes, to provide practical and vocational training that will, ultimately, prove beneficial for the entire Isle of Man,’ said Mr Roosen.

‘At the end of their apprenticeships, these employees will have the equivalent of a Higher National Diploma and will have gained two years’ work experience.’

This year there are 17 companies involved in the scheme. The apprenticeship lasts for two years and apprentices will be employed throughout. Upon completion they will receive a nationally recognised Level 3 Vocational Qualification and a range of vendor qualificators fitted to the needs of the employer.

One of the participating companies is enterprise software development house PDMS, based at Isle of Man Business Park, where 17-year-old Robert Blenkinsop has joined.

Neal Kelly, infrastructure and facilities manager at PDMS, said: ‘As a technology company we are always trying to recruit talented people, but we have struggled to find candidates with the right experience. 

‘This scheme came along at the right time, so my team decided to change tack a little and develop people into IT professionals, rather than just hire a readymade employee. The apprentice scheme is absolutely perfect for that.’

Along with other companies, PDMS attended a ‘speed-dating’ session when representatives met candidates who they considered would be the right fit. Following that, three candidates were spoken to in depth and Robert was subsequently selected for a two-year apprenticeship.

‘I think the scheme is great,’ said Mr Kelly. ‘It works three-fold’.

‘It gives somebody a chance to go into a profession that seems to always ask for experience. It gives us, as a company, a fresh new resource into what was a limited pool in the Island. It generates that additional IT resource in the Island.’

It also means that, at just 17, Robert has found himself working in a company that provides services on a global scale, with police forces in the UK and the Bahamas Maritime Authority among its clients.

Mr Roosen said he was excited about the future for the scheme.

‘This is only the beginning,’ he said. ‘We are already receiving indications from more firms that they could be interested in participating after the first year of this programme.
‘The Isle of Man has been slightly off the pace on the value of apprenticeships, which are once more coming to prominence in the UK as a sensible alternative to costly higher education fees in areas where there is no substitute for on-the-job experience.
‘The feedback we have had so far is very positive and the Island will soon catch up as it continues to develop the potential of the ICT sector. The benefits of this apprentice scheme will be felt across the economy as we produce a home-grown workforce that keeps up with the demands of the digital world.’

Participating companies in the scheme are all members of the association.

Mr Roosen added: ‘There is a very good collective support between the members of MICTA. We are delighted we have been able to facilitate a partnership between the private sector and the government and hope this will signal a continued relationship that will get stronger.’