IT Brief UK - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
Story image
Digital Realty partners with UK's Digital Futures Programme
Tue, 27th Feb 2024

Digital Realty, a major player in the digital infrastructure industry, will join as a trusted partner in the Digital Futures Programme (DFP) driven by Activate Learning Education Trust in the UK. The firm will offer guidance to train and nurture young talents aiming for digital careers along with eight industry peers. The programme provides its 14 to 19-year-old participants with a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma / Extended Diploma in Engineering (NQF).

The inclusion of Digital Realty in the programme comes at a significant time as its accessibility expands to other schools in the Thames Valley. Initially launched at University Technical College (UTC) Heathrow in 2021, the DFP, currently not part of any other UK school's curriculum, will soon be included at UTC Reading, UTC Swindon and UTC Oxfordshire.

DFP has bagged three global awards, including the Education and Employment Project Award of the Year at the Datacloud Global Awards. It received a nomination for the second consecutive year as Best Talent Developer in the Data Centre World Awards in March, a title it clinched in 2023.

The programme features a diverse curriculum, including employer-led projects, masterclasses, skills workshops and challenge days, with Digital Realty's staff helping to spearhead these. Graduates from the programme have landed apprenticeship positions, illustrating the potential of DFP to be a significant pipeline for fresh talent in the digital infrastructure sector.

Richard Oosterom, Director of Operations, UK and Ireland, Digital Realty, expressed enthusiasm for their participation in the programme. He commented, "At Digital Realty we are very excited to be taking part in this initiative. We see it as a way to contribute to the education of our current generation, to promote the data centre sector, which is increasingly important for the digital economy, and as a source of development for our staff. It is a win-win for all."

Mike Halliday, Head of Employer Engagement at Activate Learning Education Trust (ALET), added, "The Digital Futures Programme represents a unique opportunity for industry to be engaged at a programmatic level to transform the lives of younger people."

With the UK experiencing a palpable skills shortage in areas of engineering, computer science and other digital skills, ALET CEO Jo Harper commended the work of DFP: "The UK is facing an unprecedented skills shortage: we need engineers, computer scientists and other digitally-skilled staff." 

"The Digital Futures Programme is focused on equipping students with the skills to succeed in the digital industries, bringing together companies which are serious about acting to address the skills shortage with STEM-focused schools with specialisms in digital, engineering and science prepared to forge a new path for their students," said Harper.

UTC Heathrow, a school involved in the programme, will conduct an open evening on 14 March. Other trust partners in the Digital Futures Programme include Amazon Web Services, ARK Data Centres, CBRE, CNet Training, CyrusOne, LMG, Virtus Data Centres and Yondr.