Initially, Just IT Founder and CEO Simon Perriton hesitated when his CompTIA partners suggested he expand his London-based IT training and recruitment business into the apprenticeship market.
Just IT had benefited from CompTIA's discounted exam vouchers, marketing support and business advice for years, most recently through the CompTIA Authorized Partner Program, but Perriton was uncertain about how 16- to 18-year-old apprentices would perform in training and on the job.
But when Just IT launched an apprenticeship program providing IT training and recruitment services to young people through a government-funded initiative, it doubled Just IT's student volume within 18 months.
Providing a Launching Pad for IT Careers
The CompTIA A+ qualification sets up a very specific course around technical support so candidates come out of the program very focused and employable — so they get a job.
Simon Perriton, Founder and CEO, Just IT
Perriton founded Just IT in 2001 to train university graduates for technical support jobs, but soon expanded to offer training to "career-changers" — professionals who sought to move from a non-IT job into the IT industry.
Adding apprenticeships in 2011 allowed Just IT to diversify revenues: Whereas graduates and career changers pay for their training at Just IT, the British government funds apprenticeship training.
From August 2013 to July 2014, Just IT will train approximately 300 graduates and career changers, plus 300 apprenticeship candidates.
The CompTIA A+ certification anchors Just IT apprenticeship training and also its Network Professional Program, and CompTIA representatives actively work together to support the programs and drive Just IT's growth.
CompTIA "helped push me into the apprenticeship area," Perriton said with a laugh. "Upon reflection, if I had listened to them earlier, I'd be in a better situation than I already am."
Just IT became a CompTIA delivery partner in 2010, and CompTIA provides it with discounts on exam vouchers (20 percent and up, depending on volume) and market development funds (also based on volume) to help the company be more competitive. In addition, Just IT's CompTIA account manager regularly works with Perriton—by email, by phone and in-person— to review Just IT's business and jointly plan advertising campaigns. CompTIA representatives also share information about best practices, industry trends and growth opportunities.
Perriton admits that he initially "sat on the fence" about CompTIA's suggestion that Just IT start an apprenticeship program. But after working with several classes, his view has changed.
"I soon found out that these fantastically gifted young people are often stronger than (university) graduates," he said.
In fact, he added, "employers get some really good candidates from us" and retain approximately 70 percent of Just IT apprenticeship graduates as employees after their 12-month apprenticeships end.
The CompTIA A+ Advantage
In total, Just IT has placed about 4,000 people into the IT market, and Perriton estimates that 90 percent of them earned CompTIA certifications. "The CompTIA A+ qualification sets up a very specific course around technical support so candidates come out of the program very focused and employable—so they get a job," Perriton said.
The CompTIA A+ certification helped Dammy Ogundele, 23, jump-start his career in IT after three years in a university program failed to give him the IT hardware/networking training he wanted or the credentials employers demanded.
Ogundele applied for IT jobs after university but was unsuccessful. "Most companies wanted experience or some kind of certificate, which I didn't have," he said. So he enrolled at Just IT, signing up for classroom CompTIA A+ training and three weeks of self-study before taking the exam.
Ogundele became CompTIA A+ certified in November 2012 and worked, in a temporary position arranged by Just IT, for a multinational media investment management company to gain on-the-job IT experience while he completed Microsoft Windows 7 and Server 2008 training. In February, Ogundele began looking for a permanent position, landing a first line technical support job with a London IT services supplier within a month's time. "If I didn't have the CompTIA A+ training, certifications from Just IT and the experience I gained from my work placement, I don't think they would have given me the job," he said.
Ogundele wants to earn other certifications to win more responsible roles, but for now, he said, "I'm exactly where I want to be, working in IT and gaining valuable experience towards my IT career."