Q&A: Huawei's plan to train the next generation of IT pros

Huawei recently announced plans to extend its flagship corporate responsibility programme across Europe. The scheme aims to send 2000 European students to China offering them the both cultural and educational opportunities and better prepare them for the working world.

Below is an interview on “Seeds for the Future” with Tony Graziano, Vice-President of Huawei’s European Public Affairs and Communications Office.

What is Seeds for the Future, how long has it been running?

Seeds for the Future is our flagship corporate responsibility programme which sends talented STEM undergraduates to China and provides them with valuable ICT training and experience to better prepare them for the world of work after graduation.

The programme currently spans 57 countries worldwide. 23 of these countries are in Europe and Huawei has already sent over 100 UK students on the programme since its inception in the UK in 2011. Between 2016 and 2020, Huawei’s pledge is to send 2000 European students to China for ICT training and cultural activities to broaden their horizons. By 2020, at least 2500 students will have participated in the programme.

This pledge is Huawei’s contribution to the European Pact for Youth and underlines the company’s continued dedication to developing the ICT skills of some of Europe’s most promising STEM students.

Why has Huawei set up this initiative and what benefits do students get from it?

Technology is a crucial part of our future and a growing concern across businesses is the STEM skills shortage. The programme aims to improve these skills at a grassroots level, and to invest in the next generation of engineers and developers.

The focus of the programme is to close the gap between education and business – so that students really develop the skills they will need in their future employment. As part of the programme, students visit Huawei’s global HQ in Shenzhen, experience Huawei’s advanced labs and receive training from some of the world’s leading technology experts. They become familiar with cutting-edge technologies, the latest trends in the industry and learn about Huawei’s global operations.

At the start of each programme we send our students to Beijing to learn some basic Mandarin, to learn about Chinese business culture and take part in exciting cultural activities such as visits to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. Our hope is that the programme will inspire more young people to contribute to the information society we now live in.

Which universities is the scheme available in?

In the UK, students have been sent from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Reading and Southampton. Irish universities include: Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork and the Dublin Institute of Technology.

What are the requirements of the students?

In the UK, we target undergraduate students from STEM or related disciplines (e.g. Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Computing). Other requirements are that students demonstrate an interest in China and Huawei. In the UK we require that each student applicant submits their CV and an essay of no more than 500 words as to why they should be considered for the programme.

Is Huawei doing anything else to promote STEM skills at a national or international level?

Other Huawei initiatives promoting ICT education in Europe include the InnoApps competition, encouraging young Europeans to develop mobile applications, and the Huawei Innovation Research Programme (HIRP), through which Huawei has established partnerships with 120 universities and a number of European research and consulting institutes. In 2014, Huawei joined the European Commission’s eSkills for Jobs campaign.

Does the programme offer career opportunities for the students? Do you have any case students of students going on to be employed by the business?

Yes, the programme does offer opportunities to the students that participate. All participating students are encouraged to apply for any of Huawei’s advertised vacancies when they finish their studies. There have been successful cases in the UK but also in other EU countries.

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