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Teenagers Given A Sense of Growing Career Opportunities for IT Professionals

Career opportunities are growing for IT professionals, young people attending a special presentation at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus have been told.

The presentation was attended by young people who participated in the University’s Computing and Engineering summer camps and their parents.

The camps, which were organised as part of Ulster’s long term commitment to widening access, were designed to give the young people a flavour of university life and encourage them to aspire to a career in the STEM subject areas (Science Technology Engineering and Maths).

Dr Paul Hanna, Head of the School of Computing and Mathematics, highlighted the opportunities opening up for IT graduates.

Referring to a recent eSkills report, Dr Hanna said: “The IT professional workforce needs more than 1,900 new entrants to join every year, which is more than the number of graduates from computing courses across the whole of Northern Ireland.”

The presentation took place as the Northern Ireland Executive pledged to create an additional 500 undergraduate places in STEM subjects.The announcement was made as part of the Northern Ireland Executive’s £200 million economy and jobs initiative.

During the three summer camps, the participants were enrolled onto a 5 credit University module at Level 3. The modules offered included ‘An Introduction to Digital Imaging’, 'An Introduction to Mobile App Development' and 'An Introduction to Technology'.

Dr Nicola Ayre, who led the team of Ulster academics who were awarded widening access funding to deliver the summer camps, said they used it to provide bursaries to encourage engagement.

“Costs could prove to be a barrier to participation to young people who may never have considered studying at University as a possible career path,” she said. “Awarding bursaries allowed us to encourage them to engage with university life and get a flavour of what it would be like to study at Ulster.

Dr Raymond Bond explained how the format of the summer camp was designed to give participants a ‘university experience’.

“The material was presented using a mixture of lectures, tutorials and practical sessions with work then being submitted for assessment.In addition to the computing activities, the participants also had an opportunity to develop their engineering skills by building hydraulic cars and rockets during activities organised by the School of Engineering.

Many of the students who were awarded bursaries to attend the summer camps came from various community, integrated and secondary schools across Northern Ireland.They included Ulidia Integrated College, Carrickfergus; St Patricks College; Monkstown Community School; Hazelwood Integrated College; Belfast Boys’ Model; Edmund Rice, Glengormley; Glengormley High School; St Mary's Limavady; Our Lady of Lourdes, Ballymoney; North Coast Integrated College; Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle and Ballymoney High School.