A strong pipeline of talent is essential to the growth of the IT industry. RITTech (the Registration for IT Technicians) is doing its part to ensure the pipe doesn't run dry.
We talked to Annette Allmark, Director of Learning & Development at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT - which operates RITTech - to learn more about the scheme and why RITTech had decided to sponsor the IT Apprentice of the Year category at the UK IT Industry Awards 2022.
Why have you decided to sponsor an award this year?
BCS, Learning and Development is a leading end-point assessment organisation for digital apprenticeships, and believe work-place training through apprenticeships plays a critical role in helping to address the UK's digital skills gap. We also recognise the importance of supporting apprentices' onward journey and that's why on successful completion of their programme, every digital apprentice automatically qualifies for entry onto RITTech, the technical register for IT technicians, and BCS Professional Membership.
Our commitment is to driving the growth of high-quality digital apprenticeships to create an all-important talent IT and digital pipeline, and also to supporting their ongoing growth through professional membership and registration. That is why we have been delighted to sponsor the IT Apprentice of the Year category for the past five years.
What would you say is your company's proudest achievement over the past year?
One of our proudest achievements this year, from an apprenticeship and registration perspective, was showcasing the immense talent that employers are benefitting from because of IT and digital technical training.
Created by BCS and sponsored by RITTech, the inaugural BCS and IT and Digital Apprenticeship Awards took place in the summer at the Reveller Tower of London, celebrating the talent of apprentices from multiple disciplines including infrastructure, networks, software, data, AI, business analysis, digital marketing and degree apprentices. We were also thrilled to recognise the first year of digital T-Level students to complete their programme, awarding the Digital T-Level Student of the Year and a highly commended student.
The beauty of the BCS and RITTech Apprenticeship Awards was that they fed straight into the UK IT Awards, and every winner was directly entered into the UK IT IT Apprentice of the Year category. The excitement, emotion and joy of apprentices, their families, training providers and employers - plus the enthusiasm of the judges - means that the BCS Apprenticeship Awards will now be an annual event. Not only do these awards highlight the amazing IT and digital careers available; they also enable apprentices and T-Level students to engage with and be part of their community of professionals.
What have been some of the main challenges of 2022 and how have you overcome them? How have your own people/teams helped with that?
It's a challenging time all round with the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, concerns for those affected by the Ukraine war, and the steep increase in the cost of living. While people deal with these devastating challenges, we have found that, unsurprisingly, the demand for digital capabilities is only increasing. Even though the focus on creating digital skills is exciting, especially when considering the impact and innovation that competent professionals make on society, one big challenge we've seen in 2022 is the shortage of teachers, trainers and assessors - and it's pretty essential to have great educators if we are to have great professionals.
In December 2022 RITTech will launch an advanced level, recognising technicians that have already made a positive impact on their profession. Alongside this new level of technician, we encourage them - together with the BCS membership and chartered (CITP) community - to give back to their profession. Giving back could be through volunteering or part-time paid for roles, supporting the development of the IT and digital talent pipeline in schools and colleges with private providers and directly with BCS.
How do you think the industry has changed over the last year, and what lessons do you think it has learned?
In recent years, we have seen a significant rise in the reliance on data. Some reports suggest that 90% of the world's data was created within the past 24 months, which is clearly staggering. Although the industry wants to be truly data-driven, we simply don't have enough people with the rights skills within the profession to unpick and understand what all the data is telling us. There is, however, recognition of this within the sector, as demonstrated at a recent BCS Digital Skills Network event in Manchester, with many employers referencing managing data across their organisations as one of their highest priorities.
More and more employers across all sectors are recognising the need to upskill their existing staff to ensure they have important data skills, and are investing now to ensure they have a pipeline of IT and digital talent to future proof their organisations.
What do you see as the main opportunities for the industry and your company/partners in the coming year?
This will come as no surprise, but our main opportunity is to grow and help develop a community of IT and digital professionals that are essential not only in the workplace, but for society as a whole. BCS is excited to play a part in the professional development of those that impact on advances in science; tackling environmental challenges; improving health and social care, and so much more.
BCS will continue to serve its membership community and offer an expanding portfolio of IT and digital qualifications to prepare people for the dynamic world of advanced technology. Importantly, we support our members to not only qualify, but maintain their continuous professional development proving their up-to-date competence through registration. Registration starts from early careers - for example a T-Level student can be ‘part' RITTech-recognised - through to full and advanced RITTech, on a pathway to chartered (CITP) status.
A growing community of trusted, ethical and accountable IT and digital professionals are critical to our society, and professional registration, such as RITTech, is important to spell out that professionals are not only competent, but also committed to maintaining the relevance of their knowledge and skills.