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Ballycastle student ‘over the moon’ to be taking part in WorldSkills UK National Finals



Ballycastle’s Lydia Fletcher demonstrated her IT skills to secure her place in the WorldSkills UK national finals. Lydia, who is studying Information Technology and Computing at Northern Regional College will compete in the IT Solutions for Business category. WorldSkills UK is a competition-based development programme designed to enhance practical skills and knowledge taught on vocational courses by assessing an individual’s employability attributes in a competitive environment.

The original entry of over 3,000 competitors in 64 different skills area was whittled down through a series of local and regional heats with the eight highest scoring competitors in each skills area qualifying for the national finals

Traditionally the national finals are held in the NEC, Birmingham but this year, because of COVID restrictions, the finals will be held at 23 venues throughout the UK between 9 and 19 November. The IT Solutions for Business final will be held at New College Lanarkshire in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Lydia, one of 11 students to represent Northern Regional College in the WorldSkills UK national finals, is in the second year of a Level 3 Diploma in IT and Computing at the College’s Coleraine campus.

She explained why she decided to do a vocational course at the College after her GCSEs:

“I wanted to continue studying IT, but the A-Level subjects available at my school didn’t appeal to me  as the IT related subject at my school was very broad and included topics that I didn’t have a lot of interest in.”

She researched her options and after speaking to Computing lecturer and course co-ordinator, Ricky Ho, realised that the Level 3 Diploma was exactly what she was looking for.

“It covers so many areas of computing - some topics that I actually knew very little about, but I was keen to learn more, so I was confident that it was the right choice for me. 

She continued: “I have really enjoyed my learning experience at Northern Regional College, particularly diving deeper into an area of programming I previously thought I would be weak at.

“The skills that I have gained at the College have helped me focus on what areas I would like to learn more about in anticipation of going to university or seeking employment.”

Lydia said she was appreciative of the opportunity to compete in the WorldSkills UK.

“I had no idea I would get this far, and I am over the moon to have reached the final. I am really looking forward to meeting the other finalists with a similar interest in IT.

“I think this is a great opportunity to learn from other students and to develop new skills. The industry and expert influence are very evident in the development of the WorldSkills UK competitions and it is incredible to see how software is now used in the workplace. Being able to put WorldSkills UK finalist is a fantastic addition to my CV,” she added.

Ricky Ho said Lydia’s keen interest in IT and focus on achieving her goal had impressed him from the first time he met her.

“When she attended the Open Day at the College, Lydia had already achieved impressive goals within the IT sector and was able to produce certificates of achievement from Kainos Code camp, Cyber First and IT industry work experience,” he said.

Ricky said that despite Covid 19 disruptions to teaching, Lydia had been pro-active and continued to  build her portfolio.

“This reflects her commitment and hardworking ethic. Her lecturers are delighted that she has qualified for WorldSkills UK national finals, and we wish her all the best. She is a wonderful ambassador for the College, and we know she will do us all proud.”

When she completes the Level 3 Diploma, Lydia plans to enrol at Queen’s University Belfast to complete a degree in Software Engineering and Digital Technology in partnership with PwC.