20 Mar 2024
by Astrid van de Guchte 

Partnering with colleges benefits data centres and students

In the age of the smartphone, how do you get teenagers to think beyond the apps and take an interest in the IT infrastructure that makes it all possible? 

Brook 6th Form & Academy in the UK town of Dagenham focuses on teaching science, technology, engineering, mathematics and media to young people aged 14–19. NTT DATA’s London 1 Data Center is just down the road. We saw an opportunity to engage these students and explain how data centres work – including the teams and roles that make it all possible – with a link to job opportunities. 

So, in 2022, our Global Data Centers, a division of NTT DATA, and Brooks 6th Form started collaborating. 

Work placement: shining a light on career choices 

In February 2023, six students from Brooks 6th Form joined us for two weeks at the London 1 Data Center as well as our facilities in Hemel Hempstead. We hoped to spark their interest in data centres, and they were excited to see what was inside. 

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Simply shadowing our employees would give students some idea of how the data centre worked but would not offer deeper insights that could shape their career paths. Therefore, various NTT DATA teams worked together to offer tours and create work assignments across three data centres, so they could experience first-hand what it meant to work for a data-centre organisation. The students demonstrated this knowledge in a presentation on data centres. 

The work placement programme was a resounding success: all six students later applied to the NTT DATA apprenticeship programme. 

Apprenticeships: the start of a career 

Apprenticeships are a valuable and effective way for young people to enter the data-centre industry. Not only do they contribute to social mobility and help building connected communities, but they also play a crucial role in cultivating a diverse and highly skilled talent pool. This, in turn, allows us to deliver exceptional customer service with teams that understand and reflect the needs of our clients. 

Following the work placements, we opened the application process for our first-ever apprenticeship programme, based in London and Frankfurt. The programme, which combines practical, on-the-job training with studying, equips participants with the skills they need to take on entry-level technical roles within two to three years. 

Of the nine students we accepted for apprenticeships, two were from the Brooks 6th Form work placement. The programme started in August 2023. 

T-levels: another local path to data centres 

This year, our apprenticeships also offer T-level work placements in collaborations with Brooks 6th Form. T-levels offer students a unique opportunity to gain practical experience in a company while obtaining the same qualification as traditional A-levels. The T-levels programme started in January 2024 and will run until December 2024, with nine working weeks spread throughout the year. 

By giving four students the chance to learn more about working at NTT DATA, we helped to bridge the gap between education and the working world. 

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Data centres: partnership with colleges is key 

There are many mutual benefits to partnering with local colleges for work placements, as we did with Brooks 6th Form. It creates an opportunity for data centres to build a relationship with young people who have limited employment experience and leads to greater diversity within teams down the line. 

These partnerships also increase the success rate of apprenticeship programmes. Students know what kind of career path they’re signing up for when they apply for the apprenticeship, and data centres gain apprentices who want to turn their first work experience into a career. 

Explore NTT DATA’s apprenticeships

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Astrid van de Guchte 

Astrid van de Guchte 

Senior Manager: Design, Construction, Operations , NTT Global Data Centers, a division of NTT DATA