Seeking to address the growing skills gap in STEM-based school subjects, Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy has funded the Bring IT On Ambassadors initiative to inspire closer collaboration between schools and tech companies.
Run by Belfast Met, the programme brings colleges and universities across Northern Ireland together with local tech companies to train future IT professionals and prepare them for roles in burgeoning STEM fields.
The initiative is particularly keen to address the lack of female representation in tech industries, broadening their awareness of the vast opportunities available to them within the sector.
As part of the innovative programme, teachers and careers advisors receive expert mentorship in ICT, while the initiative also provides a range of potential work experience placements along with relevant careers and technology talks.
“We were delighted to be involved in the launch of the Bring It On IT Ambassadors Programme,” said Collette Walker, Head of ICT at Ashfield Girls’ High School.
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“Some of our senior ICT students were given the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of what is involved in working in the IT industry, and the many pathways and opportunities available. Having a link with well-known, local IT companies meant that our girls could discuss opportunities for work experience and gain invaluable advice about specific roles in IT.”
A recent participant of the programme, Ashfield School welcomed three representatives from tech firm Unosquare. HR manager Roisin Hughes was joined by her colleagues Mel Keenan and Michaela Cromie, who shared their IT career pathways and experience with Year 12 girls. Discussion points included their gateway into the industry, as well as how they can support fellow women in tech.
“The girls enjoyed hearing about the world of work and truly were inspired by the IT professionals of Unosquare. We are looking forward to the many opportunities that this programme will bring in the future,” added Walker.
Hughes said: “Working as Bring It On Ambassadors was a fantastic opportunity which facilitated us at Unosquare to be able to inspire more young women to join the IT sector. It was great to see the pupils at Ashfield Girls’ High School showing a keen interest, and we look forward to welcoming some of these young students into the IT sector in the near future.”