Apprentices Tailor-Made for Our Work; Accenture Is One of the World's Biggest Employers with around 260,000 People Worldwide. This Global Management Consulting, Technology Services and Outsourcing Giant Has a Growing Presence in the North East. BOB PATON Is the Managing Director of Accenture's Tyneside Office, and Today He Tells the Journal Why Accenture Decided to Launch an Apprenticeship Programme in the Region

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THE growing demand for Accenture's business services has had a massive impact on our North East workforce which has increased by more than a third over the last two years - rising from around 200 to over 300. As a result of this expansion, we moved to new, larger, state-of-the-art offices at Cobalt Business Park on North Tyneside.

The North East is a real success story for our company. Our Tyneside office has become a key part of Accenture's global network of delivery centres, where we offer technology support to our clients around the world. And we are continuing to expand in the North East in line with demand for more of our business services from our clients.

But this success presented us with a sizeable challenge: how do we recruit and retain the highly-skilled workforce we need to meet the demands of our clients from across the UK and around the world? We already knew that the region has a highly-skilled and motivated workforce.

But we found that even with highly-skilled graduates, we had to train them in the way that Accenture carries out its business. So it seemed logical to have more say in the way that our people are trained and developed as early as possible.

That is why we introduced a new three-year apprenticeship programme for school-leavers, tailor-made for the needs of Accenture in the North East.

We spent eight months working closely with Newcastle College (NCG) and Intraining developing the three-year scheme and we believe it is one of the best of its kind in the region. This is a major investment by Accenture in the North East and a whole new approach to the way we recruit our workforce.

We also made it clear that successful candidates won't necessarily have any formal qualifications.

But what was critical, was that candidates had to demonstrate drive, aptitude and a keen interest in IT.

Our first 19 apprentices have just started their careers at Accenture, and we will recruit another 20 later this year. …