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Being a student, I am passionate about promoting the fantastic, yet often hidden opportunities that exist for students to gild their skill sets with essential IT skills, much demanded by employers in IT.

In the short time I have been an intern in the Education team in Microsoft, I have been blown away by the learning tools and certifications the IT Academy offers for students, from certification in Microsoft Office Exams to programming and coding for app development. Having recently experienced the stress and furious competition of attaining a year's placement, it pains me to think that students all over the UK could be missing out on invaluable opportunities, which certainly would gild their value propositions when applying for placements or graduate schemes. A sobering number of my peers from varying universities could not find placements this year. It is therefore, my great pleasure to announce the Certified Career Day which returns by popular demand on October 29, 2013.

The Career Day will provide educators with the opportunity to hear from IT experts on the latest trends in technology training and certification for students, the skills needed for students to succeed in today’s market, and how new technologies like cloud computing are redefining job opportunities.

Why are IT skills important?

With companies and partners looking for skills and talent for future cloud infrastructure and app developers, the skills gap between what IT employees demand and the skills young adults possess is increasingly widening. I am therefore passionate about promoting the fantastic opportunities that academic institutions can provide their students through the IT Academy, which the Career Day will expand upon. I truly believe that if academic institutions promote opportunities for all students to enhance their employability through attaining demanded IT skills and qualifications, students will be empowered to take more ownership of their futures! My peers certainly would.

The Student Perspective

Intrigued to hear from students, I sought the opinion of a top grade student in her 3rd year at university, studying Festival and Events Management in Edinburgh. Emily has just landed a 6 month work placement overseas in a top Events firm and shares her thoughts on certification and IT skills:

"There is so much competition here in the UK that I decided to search for a placement in Australia, as there are more opportunities there. If my friends and myself were offered the learning tools to skill and certify ourselves in IT, we would jump at the opportunity. As my degree is in events, having skills and certifications in IT would add an extra dimension to what I can offer and make me more employable to more sectors than the events industry.”

On hearing Emily's response, I asked her how she and her peers would feel if her university were to stage a HTML 5 course basic level with certification, including boot camps and food. With some thought, Emily replied:

"I think if students were told the graduate benefits, that with HTML 5 certification they would have a better chance at being employed by some of the top IT companies, then they would get involved. Timing is also important. Boot camps would have to be at a suitable time, preferably not early in the morning."

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Emily, 3rd Year Festival and Events Student, Edinburgh

The IT Academy offerings will not only cater for academic courses but additionally be available to those students wishing to pursue routes off the academic track, such as apprenticeships. This provides colleges with the benefits of running rich apprenticeships, offering both industrial experience and valuable IT skills and qualifications, opening the door for apprentices to the technology industry.

In the academic arena, the IT Academy will simultaneously help students realise the opportunities in the IT technology industry, and offer universities and colleges a fantastic opportunity to update and enrich the curriculum they are teaching around IT through embedding information from the IT Academy such as certification on the cloud, into courses. As prospective students are increasingly looking for courses that are tailored to business demands, even in classical universities will be able to provide attractive propositions.

Stay tuned to the IT Academy blog, as well as our Twitter and Facebook channels, for details.