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Look closer to home for IT talent

When Meantime MD Fenner Pearson suggested youngsters who wanted a career in IT would do better to learn on the job rather than head off to university, one young man was listening intently.

Jack Akrigg lives less than 10 miles from Fenner’s Kendal-based IT company and had GCSEs and A-Levels in IT and Business Studies under his belt. But despite offers from universities in Sheffield, Bangor and Bradford, the student life didn’t appeal and Jack was keen to throw himself into the world of work.

“After sixth form I did a one-year apprenticeship in web development and I was keen to expand my knowledge in the workplace,” says Jack. “I had all the university offers, but when I heard Fenner’s interview on the radio it was a challenge I couldn’t ignore.”

A phone call and interview later, and Jack is now the latest member of Meantime’s team of 10 developers and designers, who work for clients including BAA Airports, South Lakeland District Council and SMEs across the country. He’s undertaking a training programme developed by Meantime, and is currently getting to grips with PHP and MySQL coding techniques under the watchful eye of technical director Steve Parker.

“Everything I’m learning is directly relevant to the work I’ll eventually be doing for clients,” says Jack. “I have a huge amount of support, with regular weekly sessions with Steve, and as he’s sitting across the desk from me I can ask if I have any problems. I wouldn’t get the same level of attention if I was sharing lectures with 50 students. I’ll spend six months learning the details inside out before I work with any clients, but I’m learning really quickly and may be able to work on something sooner.”

Fenner is delighted with Jack’s initiative and is confident his investment in training will be an asset to Meantime. “Meantime started as the archetypal cottage industry from the spare bedroom,” he says. “We’ve grown because we’ve invested time and money into making sure we have the best people in our team, and what better way to ensure we continue to develop talent than training people like Jack?

“Like all our developers, he’s the sort of person who is fascinated by IT and software, and it’s a joy to work with him to nurture that talent and expand his knowledge. He’s a huge asset and we’re hoping he’ll be the first in a long line of home-grown talent to join the team at Meantime.”

Despite the lack of university life, Jack’s more than happy with his role. “Working full-time has taught me responsibility,” he says. “And I get the best of both worlds, because if I want to have a wild weekend my salary pays for my car and insurance so I can visit my uni friends whenever I like.”

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