Northern Ireland needs more than 1,900 new technology professionals each year to fill increasingly complex, high value-added jobs. Ilex has joined forces with Nuprint Technologies, Fast Technologies, All State, Seagate, 8Over8, Kofax, Learning Pool, the Department of Education,and Ulster University to equip post primary teachers with the necessary skills to offer a new ‘A’ Level in Software Systems Design.
Sixteen secondary level teachers from 10 local schools are currently studying a postgraduate course that will give them the knowledge and practical skills to teach this new ‘A’ level. Ongoing support from industry experts will be available to teachers as they start teaching Software Systems Design this September.
Padraig Canavan, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce explained: “The city’s IT sector is growing and the number of jobs is projected to increase significantly. But to ensure we maximise on emerging opportunities, we need to ensure that our schools – and, most specifically, our teachers – are fully equipped to teach Software Systems Design at ‘A’ level. The course is a pathway to Computing and IT courses at Magee and graduates can expect attractive salaries in locally based companies”.
Gavin Killeen, Chair of the Education & Skills Implementation Group said: “This unique project is a result of local industry leaders highlighting the growing skills deficit in the IT sector and the need to ensure a ready supply of qualified and skilled young people to take up well paid posts in their own city. The course is an excellent example of industry – education collaboration in partnership with funders - the Department of Education, InvestNI, Derry City Council, and the private sector. In September 2015 ten schools will be in a position to offer ‘A’ level students the Software Systems Design course, in the knowledge that UU’s Magee campus has courses suited to this qualification, much valued by local companies who need graduates with these skills”.
Education Minister, John O’Dowd welcomed the new course: “This is a valuable new professional development opportunity for teachers in the North West and I commend the Education & Skills Implementation Group for bringing it to fruition. The project will result in more schools in the Derry area offering software development courses and in turn this will lead to even better exam outcomes and employability opportunities for young people. This can only be a positive step as we continue to move to a knowledge-based economy in which STEM capability is so important”.
Placing the initiative in the context of the city’s regeneration programme, Ilex’s Strategy and Regeneration Director, Gerard McCleave said: “The One Plan identifies education and skills as a key priority and the work being done by the private sector, WELB, UU at Magee, and Ilex is closely aligned to the Department of Employment and Learning’s Skills Strategy for N Ireland. I would particularly commend local employers for fully engaging in the education and skills agenda and for their financial support towards the cost of this exciting and unique initiative”.
Teachers will complete the course in June 2014 and six form pupils will have the option to choose the Software Systems Design ‘A’ level this September.