The Microsoft IT Academy scheme has been around for quite a while now, and with almost 600 colleges and schools accredited, it has been growing quickly recently. The basic idea is that a college can apply to become an IT Academy in order to offer courses and certification to local businesses, and even their own students and staff.
Skills for Business - the industry training arm of Sheffield College - has a customer base who are mostly SME's - 85% of firms in their local area employ less than 50 people - who were seeking IT training in Microsoft's business packages. So at the beginning of January 2004 they started to provide training courses through the Microsoft-branded IT Academy.
By delivering the Microsoft Office Specialist courses, student numbers have grown dramatically - to 1,000 trainees in 2005-6.
Dave Pickersgill, Digital Development Manager at Sheffield College, says: “We have increased numbers of delegates from zero three years ago to become a vibrant and successful part of the college.”
In both 2005 and 2006 there were one of only 5 to be given the "Microsoft Academic Centre of Excellence" award.