Joining (X-) Forces to Tackle the UK IT Skills Shortage

The UK needs to tackle its digital skills shortage in order to prevent falling behind in new digital era; that much was clear from the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee report released this week. The lack of trained IT professionals is becoming a major threat, not just for our industry but also impacting corporate economic recovery and growth within the UK.

To tackle this shortage, EMC has teamed up with social enterprise X-Forces, to provide free training to up to 20 military leavers. These are typically highly motivated individuals with very specialist technical skills, so they have a lot to offer in an industry with growing skills shortages. Backed by an investment of £250,000, this military leavers program will target all types of military personnel with leadership and technical backgrounds.

Over the course of seven weeks and with support from EMC staff, the leavers will be given lab and online training covering IT architecture and design, storage solutions, data protection and more. This will equip the participants with the necessary skills to perform in a range of different roles – either at EMC or within a company from our channel partner networks. For trainees who’d like to start their own business, X-Forces will provide funding and guidance to get them started. On top of that, mentoring support from ex-military staff will be available to the trainees at all times.

We’re really excited about this initiative, and as Ren Kapur, CEO and Founder of X-Forces, explains, it’s ground-breaking for two reasons: “Firstly it bridges the gap and delivers fit-for-purpose expertise into those vital areas where skills shortages will impact corporate and national economic recovery and growth if they are not filled.

And secondly, of equal importance, it recognises the human nature of the solution, and delivers hope, opportunity and support to this cadre of highly capable people, ensuring that they can aspire to fulfilling and sustainable second careers.

This route will really appeal to technical personnel leaving the Services and from the Forces’ community and give them an excellent opportunity to add real value to the commercial sector.”

To find out more about our partnership with X-Forces, take a look here.

Data Protection Day – Taking Data Protection Seriously

We recently saw 9th annual international Data Protection Day, a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of protecting personal data. Raising awareness and vigilance in is key amongst both businesses and individuals as 2014 not only saw a record number of data breaches, with some very high profile targets such as the Sony hacks, but was also rife with controversy concerning who has access to our data following a range of snooping revelations.

Results from our global data protection index study at the end of last year showed that businesses in the UK are losing out on £10.5 billion per year due to downtime and data-loss, with only 53% acknowledging data protection as being critical to the success of the business and only 22% fully confident they could recover systems and data today from all platforms. This is more alarming considering that two-thirds of organisations suffered from either unplanned systems downtime or data loss over the past year, with the average data-loss being equivalent to about 7 million e-mails.

EMC_Data_Country_UK

Of course, data protection requires time and investment, and businesses can’t protect everything. However, this just makes it even more important as it becomes an issue of managing risk and data, increasing the need for leadership and accountability, and the need for businesses to take it seriously.

And it’s not just businesses that need to take care.

For example, did you know how easy it is for hackers to access private information using free public Wi-Fi networks? In an experiment, it took a security expert just minutes to access e-mail and bank accounts details, and the ability to track people’s movements. There are some very interesting technologies coming out to help with security, such as biometric keyboards that can recognise the typing patterns of individual users, but these technologies aren’t yet widely available, and people still need to be vigilant when it comes to their data and devices.

Protecting information for Individuals and businesses is becoming an ever increasing priority – and this year’s data protection day was a clear reminder of the need to remain vigilant. The time for a ‘wait and see’ policy has certainly passed and businesses need to protect themselves now in order to make sure they’re not the next newsworthy target. Consumers also have a responsibility to protect themselves too. It’s about time we all united to make data protection a clear priority this year.