Students of the Bill Venter Academy, all of them Altron employees, were awarded their various certificates of qualification at an event held at the Bytes Conference Centre in Midrand on Tuesday. The ceremony recognised the achievements of 175 students of various managerial and specialist programmes, catering for junior, middle, senior and executive level managers.Present at the event were the founder and Chairman of Altron, Dr Bill Venter, Chief Executive of Altron, Mr Robbie Venter and Group Executive: Altron TMT / Chief Executive Officer: Altech, Mr Craig Venter.Styled as a corporate university, the Bill Venter Academy was founded in 2007 as the Altech Academy and was established as a way of sustaining and developing skills in the Altech Group. Students can complete studies ranging from short-course certificates through to PhDs in partnership with recognised and accredited world-class tertiary institutions such as the Da Vinci Institute, Stellenbosch University, and Harvard University in the United States.Speaking at the event, Robbie Venter said that the education and training of Altrons employees had, over the past five decades of its history, been one of the key focus areas for the Altron Group, and according to Venter it continued to play an integral role in ensuring the ongoing success and sustainability of the business.The Bill Venter Academys main purpose is to develop and provide Altron with future creative talent who will be able to generate innovative products and services aimed at increasing the groups competitive advantage. The Academy is, however, not only there to satisfy our own needs for competent, skilled and high-performing staff, but also to make a significant contribution to the national skills shortage and our industry, Venter said.According to Dr Madelise Grobler, Director of Studies at the Bill Venter Academy, for many companies the establishment of a corporate academy contributes to organisational development and initiatives such as these places talent development high on the strategic agenda.By setting up a corporate academy, the Altron Group has communicated the message, both internally and externally, that it is an organisation that values people and will provide comprehensive opportunities for continual and sustainable personal development.Of the 175 students that were awarded certificates, there were several exceptional achievers. The top student of the 2014 Senior Management Development Programme, run through the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and winner of the USB Directors Award (Johannesburg), was Pieter Nel of Bytes People Solutions. Nel, a Business Unit Executive for IT Learning Solutions at Bytes People Solutions, was challenged over the duration of the course to analyse threats or problems arising in his organisations day-to-day operations and to brainstorm methods to combat these through innovative, but practical solutions.Deidre Le Hanie, Managing Director of Bytes Managed Solution (Bytes MS), attended the prestigious INSEAD Business School in France, recognised as one of the worlds leading graduate business schools and currently ranked fourth in the world by the Financial Times for its MBA programme. Deidre participated in the Advanced Management Programme, a complete general management programme that helps executives address all aspects of leadership. The programme complements functional understanding with a holistic approach thereby giving participants in-depth insights in exercising judgment with regard to executive decision-making.Altron, through the Bill Venter Academy, awards bursaries annually to university students in the engineering, computer science and informatics fields of study. This year, ten bursary recipients that recently graduated at their respective institutions, were recognised and awarded certificates of achievement.The Academy has grown markedly since its inception in 2007 when 97 students were honoured at the first recognition ceremony. With rapid changes in technology and innovation in the Altron businesses, the Academy will continue to build the skills capacity of its students and ensure long-term skills sustainability for Altron.