The College worked collaboratively with local schools and IT businesses to stage ‘Bring IT On’, which included a series of computer science workshops and coding activities for Year 11 – 14 pupils. Primary 7 pupils also attended the event and took part in the practical sessions.
The event was supported by Kainos, The Centre of Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s University Belfast, DHSS and Career Encode, as well as local business owners and former Northern Regional College students Darren Workman and Mark Simpson of iTek.
iTek ran a workshop to show participants how to identify and fix faults in computer monitors. This practical session helped pupils develop their problem-solving skills and understand what a career in the industry might entail.
As well as learning about the exciting possibilities of a career in the digital technology industry, the event also included a host of practical sessions giving hands-on experience of C# on Visual Studio, animation on Animate and web design using HTML on Dreamweaver, as well as game design.
The practical sessions proved very popular with the visiting pupils as they were able to work on the College’s professional standard software which would not be available in their schools.
Judith Knox, IT lecturer at Northern Regional College, explained that ‘Bring IT On’ aimed to increase participation in the wider field of computer science:
“This was an ideal opportunity for us to showcase the computer science and coding courses available at the College. Pupils from some primary and post-primary schools were able to use the College’s cutting edge technology and we hope that this will encourage some of them to consider a career in computer science.
“Visiting pupils got a chance to find out more about the career options in digital technology by speaking to some people currently working in that sector. Northern Ireland has become a global leader in this area and nowadays, a career in computing is much more than sitting at a keyboard in front of a screen all day: there are a diverse range of employers out there looking for bright, hard-working young people to fill really exciting roles.
“We have plenty of intelligent, enthusiastic young people here in Northern Ireland, however, we need to make sure they have the right skill-set to fulfil these emerging roles. At Northern Regional College, we are committed to equipping our students with the kind of skills that set them up for an exciting future career without limits.”
Judith added: “It is vital that young people have all the relevant information about available career paths so they can make informed choices. We would encourage them to consider all their options as there are many different pathways to success.
“For example Higher Level Apprenticeships, which allow young people to ‘earn as they learn’, can lead to a professional qualification but without the burden of student debt,” she said.
Northern Regional College offers several progression routes from GCSE and A Level through to Higher National Certificate, Foundation Degree and Higher Level Apprenticeships in IT. For further information go to www.nrc.ac.uk
Participating schools at ‘Bring IT On’ included Sperrin Integrated College, Magherafelt High School, Spires Integrated Primary School, Holy Family Primary School and St Columba’s Primary School, Kilrea.