The Tech Academy is NTT DATA’s recruitment programme designed to bring talent into the technology sector from diverse backgrounds. It’s our way of building the next generation of tech leaders and contributing to the wider talent pool of the UK.
Through the Tech Academy, we’ve been able to hire people from all walks of life. From those who worked in completely different sectors to those who were returning from a career break, the participants in the programme have brought their own personal perspectives and fresh thinking to the company.
The recruitment process for the first Tech Academy cohort began in late 2019, with candidates due to start the programme in January 2020. Our emphasis was on finding those who had a technology-based mindset and who were a good fit for the company, regardless of their qualifications or experience.
Many members of our first cohort came from Birmingham, where our delivery centre is based. Birmingham and the Midlands are really multicultural and there is a concentration of dynamic talent there that we were able to tap into. It was important for us to reach out beyond London with our Tech Academy, in order to help address the overemphasis on the capital as the UK’s tech hub.
Being part of a team is important for those taking part in the Tech Academy. The group setting enables collaboration which helps build the confidence of participants.
Monisha, a graduate of the programme, said:
“One of the best things about the Tech Academy was being part of a diverse team. There were eight of us who were all from different skills backgrounds and of different nationalities. It was a very open, friendly and supportive environment, which made the learning much more engaging and fun.”
Nilofer, another graduate of the Tech Academy, also found being part of a group valuable.
“I made very nice friends out of the group,” she commented, “and I would say we’ve become quite a family.”
Mentoring is a key part of what we offer in the Tech Academy programme. Mentors provide ongoing support and help participants establish connections within the industry.
Nilofer attributes the success of the programme to the support that was on hand:
“When I look back at how much we have learned, it’s amazing. And it’s all because of the help of our mentors, who were always there whenever we needed to reach out.”
“The support we got and the facilities they provided access to were amazing. And most importantly, the people at NTT DATA were willing to share their time and knowledge with us.”
Monisha also found her mentors and the NTT DATA support framework to be a huge benefit of the scheme:
“My mentor had 15 years’ experience and he was brilliant. He provided guidance whenever I needed it, and he still gets in contact now to provide support.”
Returning from a career break
Both Nilofer and Monisha had some prior experience working in the technology sector, but both had taken career breaks. The Tech Academy provided them with a great opportunity to resume training and re-enter the workforce.
Nilofer took a 20-year break from work to bring up her children, who are now teenagers.
“I was getting kind of fidgety,” she said, “and I had my hands empty, so I was looking for something new and it all panned out so beautifully… the timing was perfect for me.”
Monisha, too, had taken a career break after getting married. After three years out of work she was looking for a way to resume her career:
“I was looking for a way to get back into tech, and I was particularly interested in finding a cloud-related role, as I had six months of experience as an AWS cloud engineer before my career break. The Tech Academy was the perfect opportunity for me as I was able to join the cloud academy programme and learn many new things.”
Transitioning into work
Ultimately, this programme is about preparing people to work in the sector, so practical experience is a crucial part of the training. After covering the basics, Tech Academy participants can choose to specialise, and eventually many enter roles in the company based on this specialised training.
Nilofer, who specialised in automation testing, described the process:
“We had around six months training in total and we had the opportunity to work on in-house projects along the way, so we had exposure to products and could see how things were changing. This meant it was quite a smooth transition towards working for clients… we were given step by step support.”
Monisha, who currently works on the infrastructure team, emphasised the similarities between the Tech Academy programme and working in a full-time role for NTT DATA:
“It doesn’t feel like there is any difference between being in the Tech Academy and working on my current project. There is the same supportive environment, and the team is full of energy.”
The first Tech Academy was a great success and a valuable experience for all those involved, from mentors to graduates. At NTT DATA, we see this programme as an investment in people. Though not all Tech Academy graduates will go on to build their career with us, we hope to provide them with a solid foundation for success, wherever that may be.
Our graduates are keen to recommend the programme. Monisha said:
“My experience of the Tech Academy has been really positive. I would strongly recommend those considering joining to do so, and to take advantage of the amazing opportunities available.”
Nilofer echoed this sentiment: