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Using digital retraining to plug critical IT skills gaps

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is working with colleges and IT training providers across the region thanks to a £5m Digital Retraining scheme. The fund aims to support digital training for up to 1,900 people in the West Midlands over three years.

To ensure the region has the right skillset for the future, funded training includes:

  • coding for adults in low-paid employment,
  • infrastructure bootcamps,
  • Open University cyber skills training with a focus on women, and
  • digital cafés for adults struggling with mental health issues.

As well as individuals furthering themselves through the Digital Retraining scheme, regional employers are also benefitting. Kat Betts is the Recruitment Manager for Barhale Holdings Plc and recently employed a recipient of the training. Kat said:

“Barhale Holdings Plc is the parent company of Barhale (one of the largest civil engineering and infrastructure specialists in the UK) and BCS Group (a leading supplier of safety and construction products and services in the Midlands and Scotland). As such, we are always seeking talented and motivated individuals to join our teams.”

Tapping into specialist IT support services

As jobs at Barhale can be varied and sometimes specialist, having third party support can be vital. One of the scheme’s training providers is Netcom Training – IT professionals who deliver fully funded Digital Retaining. Candidates are rapidly retrained with higher digital skills in infrastructure and cyber through an intensive training approach. Accessing this type of talent alongside support from IT-sector experts has been extremely helpful for Barhale. Kat continued:

“Unfortunately, two people that had been with Barhale for quite some time left to develop their careers. It was a natural turnover, so a specialist position became available within the company. When posts such as digital/IT positions are created, they can involve quite niche candidate searches. Recruitment Managers don’t always know the intricacies of specialist jobs like these, so if somebody else can offer advice and have people ready to go, that can be fantastically helpful.”

Thanks to the WMCA Digital Retraining scheme, Netcom Training were able to put forward just the right candidates for the role after spending time reviewing the job description and conditions. As a result, Netcom matched Barhale’s requirements with suitable individuals who had just been upskilled ready for in-depth interviews. One of these candidates was successful and offered the job.

“It's hard enough to find the right candidate at the best of times, so if we can try other avenues like this as well, it really helps. Of course, we use the usual online channels for permanent vacancies – our website, CV Library etc - but this is another way of finding people who meet our expectations with the right experience and qualifications. Netcom came up with some great quality candidates.”

Finding the right person for the job

In terms of benefits, Kat highlights the ease of recruitment for a unique role using the Digital Retraining scheme, getting individuals with specialist qualifications and experience that may ordinarily be hard to recruit. The use of a third-party training provider was essential in making this happen.

The successful candidate has fitted in well, and the Barhale IT team are very pleased with the appointment. Kat concluded:

“Our needs were definitely met. The training provider was very communicative and had the expertise to pick the perfect candidate from their books to do the job. When we next recruit for digital posts, we will certainly give Netcom the vacancies before we do anything else to see if they have anyone on their training who would suit us. It's such a straightforward way of working.”

To find out more about the Digital Retraining Scheme and how it could benefit you or your organisation, contact: