The QA Gateway Programme is designed to improve employability for thousands of high-calibre graduates looking to enter the increasingly diverse world of IT.

QA, the UK's leading learning company, has launched an exclusive new programme for recent STEM graduates. Named the 'QA Gateway Programme' it is designed to improve employability for thousands of high-calibre graduates looking to enter the increasingly diverse world of IT. Through the programme QA aims to become one of the UKs leading graduate employers - fast tracking the careers of young people into the increasingly competitive IT market.

The severity of the employability issues for graduates has been highlighted recently by figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), which showed that around a third of last year's graduates were in "non-professional" jobs, that did not necessarily require a degree, six months after completing their course.

Additionally, it has been highlighted that a quarter of science graduates were in "non- professional" jobs six months after completing their degrees, with 5.1% of science graduates were working in factories and "elementary occupations". []

What is clear is that while today's graduates have the drive and the academic qualifications, they do not necessarily have the practical skills to maximise their potential within the first two years of employment- the QA Gateway Programme aims to solve this problem.

The Gateway Programme will provide graduates with a period of world-class practical training followed by an assignment as an IT Contractor within one of QA's 6000 strong client base. The training and work assignments will provide the required balance of both informal and formal learning which is required to support the development needs of young people today.

The QA Gateway Programme will initially be focused on the well-publicised UK IT skills gap. There are currently hundreds of thousands of vacant IT roles in the UK, and the demand for IT skills is growing (the UK Council of Professors and Heads of Computing conservatively predicts that demand for IT professionals will increase by up to 15% in the next eight years.). IT skills are in demand and we believe that our programme will help organisations to meet the challenge of filling key roles with highly motivated and suitably skilled people.

Andy Thompson, Skills Management Consultant, at QA says "During the recession IT budgets were tight, projects held back and IT staff numbers cut. Now, as the financial climate improves and technology races ahead, the need for skilled IT staff is accelerating. The technology deficit that many companies are experiencing needs to be fixed quickly with new staff hitting the ground running. That is where the QA Gateway Programme comes in."

Michael Jakeman, a recent graduate and applicant for the QA Gateway Programme says "I am really excited about the opportunity with the QA Gateway Programme because it would allow me to get invaluable tech experience and a great CV. This graduate scheme is vital to my career development"

QA is already one of the UK's leading graduate training organisations, and has an award winning apprenticeship offering. This is evidenced by the Head of Projects & Communications within the Technology Central Services department at Sky, who commented "QA has been our training partner for our Technology Graduate Programme since its inception seven years ago. Our goal is to develop well-rounded technology professionals who can thrive in a fast-paced environment, and QA has been collaborative in supporting the achievement of this objective."

To apply for a place on the QA Gateway Programme STEM graduates must fill out the online application form  as well as emailing their CV to .

This year's Software Development programme begins on the 17 th  November with two Assessment Days taking place in October (10 th  and 24 th ) and one on November 6 th . The graduates who begin this Software Development stream will be fully qualified by March 2015.