Ballycastle students’ best results lead to an apprenticeship in a global company

The North Regional College computing student has received a much-needed apprenticeship with global consulting firm PwC, which will allow her to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and a Level 6 apprenticeship qualification for digital technology solutions. Lydia Fletcher of Ballycastle completed a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Information Technology and Computing at the college’s Coleraine campus and her outstanding results helped secure her professional training.

Lydia knew from an early age that she wanted to study computing and, after considering her options, decided to go the professional path at Northern Regional College, rather than stay at school.

“I did not want to do the A-levels because although computing options were available in the school, the materials offered did not include in-depth modules.”

The college’s BTEC computing course covered a range of interesting topics and I graduated from the course feeling that I had a good knowledge of a career in IT or computing.”

Lydia earned Triple Excellence* on her Level 3 Extended Diploma, the equivalent of three A-levels, which helped her secure her professional training at PwC. As a trainee, you will “earn when you learn” and upon successful completion you will graduate with a Bachelor of Engineering degree, thanks to Queen’s Software Engineering with PwC’s digital technology partnership.

As part of the programme, Lydia will have had extensive training while working with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Through training, she will have the opportunity to gain insight into a variety of teams across the technology spectrum while developing her technical specialization as she progresses into professional training. Lydia said:

“I can’t wait to have the opportunity to work in their new offices located in Merchant Square in downtown Belfast.

“PwC seems to have a modern way of working and a solid support system for those who work there. I have already received a mentor who will support me throughout my experience.”

Reflecting on her experience, she said that the support she received from the course coordinators and lecturers, Ricky He and Megan Porter was a huge contribution to her success.

“Ricky he and Megan Porter were both incredibly supportive during the two years I was in college, especially during the tough times. They were incredibly committed to our class and were always available to support us with anything we needed at any time.

“Programming was my favorite module and even though this topic is broad in scope, the lecturers explained it in a way that makes the topic less difficult and more interesting and that really helped me,

Lydia highlighted the lack of female representation in the computing industry and said that she would encourage any young girls considering computing as a career to look to local females in this field for inspiration.

“My brothers studied alongside Sapphire Duffy, Community Manager at Women Who Code. I was inspired to see a young woman from Ballymina make a huge difference in the world of computing throughout my time in college.

“I was the only student in my class of 17 students studying computing which highlights the gender gap and underrepresentation of females across the computing and IT field. We hope Sapphire’s inspiring success will encourage other girls to participate.”

Lydia said that her decision to study at Northern Regional College was the best option for her because it exposed her to experiences and opportunities that she would not have had if she had stayed at the school.

“Participation in the UK WorldSkills series was one of the highlights of my time in college,

“I was able to enter the WorldSkills UK competition. This was a distinction from my time in college. We made it to the UK National Finals, which gave us the opportunity to travel to Scotland for the competition.”

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