HP has launched an academic partnership programme that aims to equip students with end-to-end, business-ready IT skills.
Under the programme, called HP Institute, the IT vendor aims to partner with UK schools, colleges and universities to deliver a curriculum that will improve the IT skills of more than 20,000 people over the next four years.
"Customers and channel partners tell us that they are experiencing a growing shortage of job-ready IT professionals with the right skills to grow and innovate within our businesses. HP is starting the Institute programme to address this need," said Nick Wilson, vice president and managing director of HP UK and Ireland.
Although Wilson admitted that the programme will have an HP bias - as its primary goal is to provide a skills pool for itself and its 8,000 channel partners - he said that the skills that students will learn will be transferable.
The programme comprises of four modules that teach industry-standard technologies, including IT service management standard ITIL, and aims to equip students with the skills to deploy end-to-end IT solutions in small and medium-sized companies.
For example, the connected devices module will teach students how to choose, deploy and integrate devices into a solution for the business. The networks module will teach students how to design and implement a networking solution, including connections to the internet.
There is also a servers and storage applications module and a cloud module. The cloud module aims to teach students the different options involved with deploying cloud, and how to choose the right one to support the business objectives.
"We want to teach them how to match up the solutions with the business objectives, and how to sit with a customer and understand the business objectives. There is a soft skills aspect to sitting with the customer and justifying the return on investment (ROI) of what you propose," said Brian Beneda, manager of strategy and business development at HP.
"It's no longer good enough to hire people out of university who are geeks who know how to code, but don't understand how it affects the business."
De Montfort University (DMU) is one of the HP Institute launch partners. It piloted the programme in its Informatics department in January, and plans to offer certain modules of the programme in all its degrees, in order to improve the technology skills of all students, regardless of their subject area.
"We want to extent this into the area of performing arts and into fashion, because ICT pervades all parts of society," said Professor Dominic Shellard, vice-chancellor at DMU.
On successful completion of the HP Institute course, students will gain an HP Accredited Technical Associate qualification, which is part of the HP ExpertONE certification. HP already provides the higher levels of this certification (Professional, Expert and Master) to IT professionals looking to retrain or gain extra experience of deploying IT solutions in increasingly complex business contexts.
The course will be delivered via e-learning solutions and textbooks, and students will be assessed with an exam. They will also have access to an HP remote lab, which gives students virtual access to up-to-date equipment they would find in the workplace.
HP wants to recruit more academic partners to the programme, and a GCSE version of the courses is about to go through a consultation process so that it can be delivered in schools as well as at university level.
Academic institutions that wish to learn more about the Institute can contact Prodigy Learning, which is distributing the HP Institute solution throughout UK and Ireland at [email protected].
Teachers and schools can also register for a preview of the programme at www.certiport.com/hp.