WANdisco founder launches academy in Sheffield

WANdisco Data Academy, opening in September, will bid to nurture young engineers and entrepreneurs

The Sheffield College is to host a new venture dedicated to educating and nurturing the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs.

WANdisco Data Academy will welcome an initial intake of 20 young students in September, working towards the BTEC National Extended Diploma Level 3 in Information Technology (software and data pathway).

The endeavour is the brainchild of David Richards, founder of WANdisco, a public software company with bases in both Sheffield and Silicon Valley.

From the archive: David Richards’ charity works to improve computer science education

The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation aims to transform the way computer science is taught in classrooms and focuses on data science to give young people the ability to understand and solve real-world challenges. Around 50 pupils have started the course at Sheffield’s Tapton School, the first institution to work with the foundation and David’s alma mater.

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“We want to equip young people in Sheffield with the skills and experience to succeed in the future work environment,” says Richards.

“We believe tech should be a force for good in our communities, and are very excited to meet our first group of new recruits. [They] will have the chance to work on software that helps farmers plough fields, studios make movies, and healthcare companies predict cancers.”

Would-be participants are required to undertake a “rigorous selection process” in order to enter the academy, where subjects are set to encompass sales and marketing, finance, human resources, customer support, and development operations.

We want to equip young people in Sheffield with the skills and experience to succeed in the future work environment. David Richards

Methods of learning will include workplace visits, specialist speakers, special projects, and – for two high-scoring students – 45-day industry placements.

Come the end of the course, students will be guaranteed a job interview with WANdisco.

Applications are now open.

“We are providing a market-leading learning environment that will fully complement the changing way young people interact with technology, research and learn,” says Angela Foulkes, chief executive and principal of The Sheffield College.

“They will be able to acquire and develop valuable skills and experience which will make them highly employable as individuals.”