More than 70% of those completing Belfast City Council’s first ever Tech Employment Academy immediately secured employment in the sector.
Demand for skills in Belfast’s booming tech sector is significantly outstripping supply – so Belfast City Council has joined forces with the city’s private sector to help meet that need. The first ever Tech Employment Academy was co-designed and delivered with Allstate and Citi, with support from the Belfast Labour Market Partnership and the Learning & Work Institute.
As well as investing in and tailoring the programme design, these major employers have offered valuable work experience and guaranteed job interviews for those who successfully completed the 16-week course.
Academy participants were immersed in the essentials of software development, product management, gained vital employability skills, including employer coaching and mentoring – and most importantly, have secured – or are in the process of securing – high quality jobs, with the help of Belfast City Council’s Employability and Skills team.
Councillor Gareth Spratt, Deputy Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee said: “I’d like to congratulate the first graduates of our Tech Employment Academy – the majority of whom secured employment in the sector as soon as the programme ended. We made a commitment in the Belfast Agenda to help residents reach their full potential and to empower those furthest removed from the labour market to progress in employment. We also want to support business growth and help Belfast employers with current recruitment challenges.
“So we were delighted to receive 100 applications for 15 places on our first Belfast Tech Employment Academy – there’s a real appetite for work in this fast-growing sector. We reached out to people who weren’t currently working, or who were underemployed, people who wanted to restart their career after a break or setback, those who were keen to reboot or change direction in their professional lives – and of course those impacted by Covid-19.
“We made the decision to carry out an aptitude assessment as part of our application process, instead of having a requirement for high-level, formal qualifications, because we want to remove as many barriers to employment as possible. For the same reason, we’re offering significant wrap-around care to support travel and childcare costs, as well as making sure that participants aren’t missing out on any benefits that they’re eligible for.
“Our Employment Academies are only going to become more important as we see more high value employment opportunities created by new investment in our city, including the Belfast Region City Deal – and the creation of our Smart District and Innovation District. We need to connect people living here to those opportunities and provide the high-quality talent pipeline that investors expect.”
Paul Cassidy, Global Senior Learning & Development, Allstate said: “Allstate is delighted to have partnered on the design of this pathway to employment in conjunction with Belfast City Council and Citi. Right from the start, Allstate recognised the benefit of the Tech Employment Academy and we’re excited for future, successful participants.
“As one of the largest employers in technology in Northern Ireland, Allstate continues to strive to ensure an open and diverse recruitment strategy encouraging motivated and talented individuals to explore a career within the technology sector. The demand for skills and talent is a challenge, and this employability programme is a great example of how we can build that bridge to employment and get people working in technology. We’ve seen a committed, motivated and keen to learn cohort over the last 16 weeks and they’ve demonstrated the ability to embrace new skills that will equip them for now and the future as a successful route into employment.”
Leigh Meyer, Citi Belfast Site Lead said: “At Citi we are challenging the stereotypical idea of finance professionals by continuing to develop a number of career pathways. Citi’s team members are supported, mentored, provided with excellent training, and given opportunities to connect with global teams to develop expertise. We want people to build their careers here, not just apply for a job.
“We were delighted to work closely with the Belfast City Council to develop their first ever Tech Employment Academy to collaboratively develop and identify future skills required for successful careers within the finance sector. It has provided the opportunity to remove entry barriers and dispel the perception that working in financial services means you need a certain type of qualification or accent.
“We understand that diversity of skills and backgrounds adds value to the entire 3700+ Belfast team and lends itself to a supportive, vibrant, and positive working environment for everyone in Citi Belfast, as we continue to give our people the opportunity to live locally and work globally supporting businesses around the world.”
Belfast based businesses and organisations interested in working with Belfast City Council on the second cohort of the Tech Employment Academy are being encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/takethenextstep