CareerEncode: 'Why apprenticeships are the future for NI's tech sector'

  • CareerEncode’s Camilla Long held an event today in association with BazaarVoice to showcase the benefits of higher level apprenticeships to tech companies within Northern Ireland.

    CareerEncode started last year as an IT apprenticeship scheme backed by nine businesses in the Mid-Ulster, North West and North Antrim areas and delivered by Northern Regional College. It offers an "earn as you learn" model for school leavers who want to start a career in IT and those seeking to retrain into an IT role without the financial hit of university or college tuition fees. 

    Those on the scheme gain an apprenticeship with one of the partner firms with a full salary while at the same time working toward a Foundation Degree qualification accredited by Ulster University. The full Northern Ireland-wide programme is now being rolled out with deadlines for applications closing before Tuesday 31 March 2020.

    RELATED: Magherafelt students get tech-savvy with Northern Regional College

    IT manager at FP McCann, Brian Law, discussed with the event’s audience today why the Magherafelt construction company valued the apprentices it gained through CareerEncode’s programme.

    He said that the firm valued the practicality of hands-on learning that the apprenticeship delivered; the skills young people were being taught in college on a Tuesday were literally being applied the very next day within FP McCann at work.

    Two of these apprentices that began their journey in September 2019 also attended the event; Ronan Rafferty and Bronagh Gallagher, who were both in the same school year at St. Patrick’s College, Maghera.

    Bronagh now also goes out to schools to promote careers in STEM to young females; a group that is particularly underrepresented in the tech sector.

    RELATED: Career Encode IT apprenticeship scheme set for full NI-wide rollout in 2020

    CareerEncode and higher level apprenticeships are initiatives that employers involved want to promote more to parents as a viable option for their children’s futures; to highlight that university is not always the only choice.

    Camilla compared the role of apprenticeships in NI’s tech scene to President John F. Kennedy’s speech regarding the US moon landing in 1962, when he announced: “We choose to go to the moon… not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”

    With the current skills shortage in NI’s tech sector, it is a case of supply and demand. There are not enough university graduates presently to fill the numerous roles that are needed, and so the industry as a whole has a part to play in filling the jobs and doing so with the right people.

    Schemes such as CareerEncode’s are helping solve this problem by reaching out to firms from across the country, and not just focusing on the capital, Belfast (which was regarded as one of the best cities for tech workers in 2019 by Tech Nation).

    Find more info on CareerEncode and how to apply here.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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