UK hosting provider finds solution to the Linux skills gap

An Innovative Approach to Closing the Skills Gap

Finding certified Linux professionals is challenging for many businesses. But for UKFast, it’s never been easier. Thanks to its innovative Linux training and apprenticeship programs, UKFast boasts the largest number of LPI-certified employees in the UK and enjoys access to an ever- expanding pool of qualified Linux professionals.

Training the Next Generation of Linux Engineers

Founded in 1999, UKFast is the largest privately-owned hosting provider in the United Kingdom. Open-source technology has been at the heart of UKFast’s success. But in the early years, the company constantly struggled to find the certified Linux professionals its business depended on.

So, way back in 2007, the company’s leadership decided to find their own solution to the skills gap. “There’s a huge skills gap globally,” explains Saxton, Director of Training and Education at UKFast. “So how do you find the right talent? Well, we said, ‘Why don’t we grow it? Let’s build our own education and training program here. Let’s look at how we can develop our team and inspire young people in the community to be the next generation of Linux engineers.’” The resulting apprenticeship program was so successful that in 2012 UKFast began looking at ways to extend its educational capabilities to the broader community in Manchester. That’s when Saxton found NDG’s Linux courses in the Cisco Networking Academy.

NDG Linux Essentials Prepares Learners for LPI Certification

With NDG’s Linux courses, students don’t need to navigate the confusing world of distributions or know how to set up their own Linux machine. All they need to do is launch the module in a web browser. The Linux courses include a live Linux virtual machine alongside the course materials, so students can immediately start entering commands and learn by doing.

“It was a no-brainer to incorporate NDG’s Linux courses as a core part of our curriculum,” explains Saxton. “One of the challenges any training organization has is ultimately the labs. They take time to set up, maintain and keep up-to- date. Having the labs in the NDG courses makes our task a lot easier.”

A Bright Future for UKFast and Manchester

At a time when nine out of ten hiring managers struggle to find qualified open-source talent, UKFast enjoys ready access to a large pool of LPI-certified Linux engineers. The company has approximately 50 learners in its apprenticeship program at any given time, and it has the highest number of LPI-certified employees in the United Kingdom.

UKFast continues to expand its program. Today, it offers free Linux training to both students and teachers, hosts a Coding Club for young learners, and serves as an exam center for qualifying schools, teachers and even clients. And in the next couple of years, UKFast (in partnership with the Manchester Dean Trust) will create a new school focused on digital literacy to give young people the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly technology-driven workplace.

Interested in learning more? Read the UKFast case study.