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The latest news from SoA


Updated: Mar 24, 2021

The pandemic has been particularly hard on young people and employment levels are hitting a record low. Businesses are now transforming the way they operate to be able to adapt and thrive, in a world of new technology and digital transformation.

Process automation offers great opportunities, but is our youth ready?

New research has found that almost half of young people (47%) aged between 16-24 believe that one day they will work in a role that does not exist yet, but only one in five (18%) think they are equipped with the skills required to future-proof their careers. Almost three quarters (74%) also feel that they are not getting enough information about careers that will be available in the future. (Stats provided by The Manufacturer)

How SoA is creating opportunities through COVID-19 and beyond

McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that by 2030, automation will drive 75 to 375 million jobs. School of Automation is on a mission to create sustainable employment for new talent by providing them with the training and support to gain knowledge and skills of emerging technologies such as Robotic Process Automation. Process Automation is recognised as one of the technologies that is defining the future of work. The adoption of Process Automation technologies has been further accelerated by the pandemic leaving a huge skills gap and need for resource. Preparing talent to take on process automation projects would support businesses embark on automation projects with confidence, whilst at the same time providing a sustainable eco system of new talent into the sector.

We provide support and training to new developers. and offer them real tangible experience, to develop their knowledge and skills by creating alternative career paths into Process Automation.

Throughout the pandemic we have continued our recruitment and training via our online learning platform/portal, were our technical trainers guide you through the journey.

Our apprentices have worked on real live client projects and have found the experience invaluable. Our client partners have been delighted with the quality and standards of work produced and continue to engage with us on future automation projects. Read more about how we have helped fill the automation skill gap (link to Costain blog here)

Going strong, despite the challenges

Hear from our newest employees at School of Automation about gaining employment and what they are looking forward to in the year ahead;

“I chose this apprenticeship programme because it is a great opportunity in a field that interested me. Even with no prior knowledge of RPA specifically, I was intrigued by it and excited to learn more. I feel like I have grown a lot already and hope to evolve even further as a developer through this apprenticeship with SoA. I like that they are so focused on being creative and inspiring innovation while still caring about the people as well.” - Marla Chalmers, Group 1

“Through the programme, I would like to achieve a full-time job in automation. It was the aspect of learning new and useful skills for the future whilst getting the real experience of working with colleagues and clients. The thing I like most about SoA is that no matter what stage of automation I get to, there is always ways I can be shown to improve and get better.” - Evan McFadden, Group 2


The future of work is changing, and we need to support people to develop the right skills and attributes in order to be ready for digital transformation. More and more businesses are looking for new skills and experience and Process Automation is one of those growing trends in the market. SOA provides individuals an alternative career path into Process Automation via hands on learning, training and upskilling supported by qualification and industry certification.

The global pandemic has had such a devastating impact on many lives and the long term effects are yet to be fully known. What we do believe is that people need opportunities now more than ever to feel part of something and to give them a sense of worth and belonging.

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The automation sector is continually growing; being highly competitive and consists of multiple major players. The automation market was valued at USD 76.83 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 114.17 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 7.23% over the forecast period 2020-2025. However, there is a gap between the growing requirements and the skills to service it.

With this in mind, the need for RPA skills is in high demand within the automation sector and an increase in demand is growing. According to the Royal Society, 58,000 data science and automation jobs are being created every year in the UK alone. Although there is an increase in demand and job roles being created, there is currently a lack of qualified individuals to fills these roles.

About Costain and their journey of building sustainable skills to support and grow their automation initiatives.

Whilst businesses are struggling to find the right skills to properly resource their transformation journey, Costain are embarking on their own automation journey with ABP Consultancy. Through the understanding of the missing skill set needed, Costain have invested in their future by joining with the School of Automation (SOA), who are now providing them with the ability to build and nurture young talent, with the goal to not only fulfil their skills gap, but to enjoy the privilege of enhancing an individual’s career and aiding in providing ‘on the job’ learning opportunities. Our partnership with the School of Automation is central to the Costain RPA programme. We recognise that developing young talent is extremely important to narrow the skills gap & ensure we have a steady stream of developers to deliver in this exciting new technology space.” Steven Still, Head of Automation, Costain Automation Solutions.

SOA developers undertook an automation project with Costain to track the carbon emissions of their fleet of vehicles and built one of the first carbon capture robots that now tracks the carbon footprint of their full fleet. The process now runs seamlessly and has saved employees from hours of manually tracking this information, freeing them to do more productive tasks. SOA developers named the new robot “Keith” which is now live in production and hard at work.

Following on from the success of the project Costain now have 4 other processes being developed by the SOA team and are expected to be live in production in the coming weeks. “We are very proud of the achievements of our team and thankful to Costain for giving them the opportunity to work on a live project and be part of their automation journey. Our mission is to create career pathways for people to enter this sector and help other clients such as Costain by providing a sustainable source of talent and skills to resource their automation plans, to positively transform the way we work.” – Marc Cooper, CEO – School of Automation.

“I enjoyed working with Costain. Working on the process has taught me a lot of new things such as working with the enhanced framework and completing some file validation. The project also provided me with new experience like being in calls regularly with clients to help get a better understanding of what is required and showing/running the developed process.” Mark Birrell, Developer

The role of ABP in supporting SOA within the business environment

ABP Consultancy have been able to support the SOA developers with opportunities to work with their client partners while offering their senior technical expertise and oversite on projects. The SOA developers require guidance and support to be able to transition into the world of process automation and work with clients to deliver real projects. This enables our young people the time and space to grow and gain the project experience on low complexity projects before becoming experienced developers themselves. “As process automation experts working closely with our clients such as Costain, we are increasingly seeing a demand for good skills and talent. Through our partnership with SOA we can not only fulfil our clients’ needs with high quality talent but also ensure we are nurturing and guiding young people to step in confidently into the corporate world and build fulfilling careers in automation” – Jorge Soares, ABP Consultancy.

Our model of success?

  • A unique model of identifying, assessing and selecting potential talent

  • Detailed 12 week pre-apprenticeship personal and technical training programme

  • A supportive 18 month full time employment contract supported by an apprenticeship framework

  • Collaborative partnership working with SOA, TIGERS, ABP, Costain & UiPath

  • Real live client lead project experience and industry certification

  • Continued personal and technical upskilling

  • Continued technical and future steps support

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The School of Automation (SOA) is an apprenticeship and career management employer with a unique methodology of selection, training and mentoring of talent so they can launch successfully into the world of Process Automation.

Our Strength & Support 

SOA has been born out of the partnership of two leading companies aimed at aligning education with a growth sector.

ABP Innovation is the company within ABP Group responsible for designing and developing new and innovative projects around digital transformation to life. This experience is leveraged by ABP Consultancy, a Business Process Management company specialised in developing tailored and “fit for purpose” automation solutions for their clients. ABP operates in various countries and has over 60 international clients. ABP is recognised by clients, partners and analysts as one of the top players in the Business Process Management (BPM) and Robotics (RPA) markets.

TIGERS (Training Initiatives Generating Effective Results Scotland) is a relationship driven training and development employer. TIGERS create working and learning environments to allow education to meet employment. TIGERS’ have almost 20years of experience in supporting people with complex needs and barriers to progression into the world of work. TIGERS’ pedagogy is that relationships come before attainment.

We are also a proud partner of the market leader in Robotic Process Automation, UiPath.  UiPath support our approach of creating career pathways for individuals who might never have the opportunity to start a career in automation. Through our Academic Alliance partnership, we can leverage their community edition software licences to ensure our people are using and being trained on cutting edge RPA software and to be able to take these skills and be part of automation projects.

Our partners offer their unwavering support for SOA to create an inclusive career pathway for people to meet their infinite potential in Process Automation.

The apprentice view

As a young developer with SOA you will receive both personal and technical skills supported by an apprenticeship framework throughout your journey. Our training support will prepare you technically to effectively use the RPA software, but we will also support you personally to meet the challenges of work and life. The 18-month journey allows you the time and space to develop and mature into a skilled RPA developer in a safe and secure environment. You will gain the required project experience and industry certification to allow you to confidently go to market as a developer.

The nurture and development of new talent to the sector requires support from like-minded organisations who believe what we believe about creating a grassroots talent pipeline. One of our early adopters and forward-thinking partners Costain Group PLC saw the need to develop younger talent and the benefits that young people can bring to business and their teams. Our young SOA developers built a carbon capture robot “Keith” that went on to win a Leading Edge award within the company. Our young developers are currently working to deliver 5 processes for Costain over the next month.

Now is the time 

Digital transformation is impacting businesses worldwide and we require people with the skills to meet that demand and growth. In 2019, the global digital transformation market was valued at USD 284.38 billion. To put it into perspective in the UK, since 2012 £3.2bn has been spent by the Government on digital, data and technology services. This clear financial investment to digital transformation highlights the growth and the need for new skills and talent. The time is now to support people with the right training and skills so that they feel included and part of the journey.

Check out the Costain Group post here:

Visit our website and find out more about how to become a partner:

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