Columbus joins Microsoft pilot to build links with education

An international consultancy company is working closely with Microsoft and the Dynamics community to build links with education and develop the next generation of manufacturing and IT professionals.

Columbus, a Microsoft Dynamics AX manufacturing partner, was one of three key Microsoft technology partners selected to present to second and third-year students studying at the Southampton Business School recently, as part of a pilot campaign to introduce students and young people to careers within the manufacturing software industry.

During the event, Columbus demonstrated to students the important role that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems play in manufacturing, distribution and retail environments, and educated young people in customer service, teamwork and business etiquette. Students were then put into a hypothetical ERP business environment to see how they would respond using the skills they learned on the day.

Deputy Head of the Business School, Dr Martin Broad, said: “This collaboration between Southampton Business School and the Microsoft Dynamics business community provided a glimpse for students into future opportunities as they start to consider their career choices. It combined the application of business technologies available in the market today with theories taught at the University.”

The pilot from Microsoft has been launched at a time when IT and consultancy businesses are being urged to adopt practical steps to overcome the current skills shortage facing the sector. It is widely reported that today’s graduates are often unprepared when entering the workplace for the first time; and by partnering with academic institutes, Columbus is providing students with some practical skills to support theory based learning.   

Columbus UK managing director, Mary Hunter said: “One of the biggest issues facing the consultancy industry at present is the shortage of skilled workers. However, what is also often neglected is the merging of theory based knowledge and practical skills. By working alongside academic institutes such as Southampton Business School, we can support future generations of IT professionals to not only hold the relevant academic knowledge, but that they also possess a greater understanding of the wider application of business technologies within a working environment.

“As a business we have a strong ethos of continually investing in young people and partnerships such as this will ensure graduates are more prepared when entering a working environment, possessing both skills and knowledge to really propel their manufacturing IT careers.”

Columbus has long been an advocate of nurturing talent within such a highly competitive sector, with the company’s own independent graduate scheme now entering its fifth year. The global scheme annually recruits young people from all over the world, integrating them into the international business, and training them first hand on Microsoft products, finance, trade & logistics, manufacturing and more as it contributes to solving a growing industry skills gap.

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