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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Co Antrim student’s top results lead to apprenticeship at global firm

A Northern Regional College Computing student has been offered a much sought-after degree apprenticeship with global consultancy firm PwC, which will allow her to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and a Level 6 Digital Technology Solutions apprenticeship qualification.

Lydia Fletcher from 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 apprenticeship.

Lydia realised from an early age that she wanted to study computing and, after considering her options, decided to go down the vocational route at Northern Regional College, rather than staying on at school.

“I didn’t want to do A-Levels because although there were computing options available at school, there subjects offered didn’t 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 well-rounded knowledge for a career in IT or computing.”

Lydia achieved triple Distinction* in the Level 3 Extended Diploma, an academic equivalent of three A levels, helping her secure her PwC apprenticeship. As an apprentice, she will ‘earn as she learns’ and on successful completion will graduate with a BEng degree, thanks to Queen’s Software Engineering with Digital Technology Partnership with PwC.

As part of the programme, Lydia will have gained extensive on-the-job training with PwC. Through training she will have the opportunity to gain an insight into a variety of teams across the technology spectrum whilst developing her technical specialism as she progresses through the apprenticeship.

Lydia said:

“I can’t wait to have an opportunity to work in their new offices located in Merchant Square in Belfast city centre.

“It seems PwC has a modern way of working and a strong support system for those who work there. Already I have been given a mentor who will support me throughout my experience.”

Reflecting on her experience, she said that the support received from her course co-ordinators and lecturers, Ricky Ho and Megan Porter was a big contribution to her success.

“Both Ricky Ho and Megan Porter were incredibly supportive during the two years I studied at the college, particularly during stressful 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 favourite module and, despite this being a vast topic, our lecturers explained it in such a way that the subject less daunting and more interesting and this really helped my confidence."

Lydia highlighted the lack of female representation in the computing industry and said she would encourage any young girls thinking about computing as a career to look towards local females who are in the field for inspiration.

“My brothers studied alongside Sapphire Duffy, a Community Manager at ‘Women Who Code’. Seeing how a young woman from Ballymena was making such a difference in the computing world really inspired me throughout my time at the College.

“I was the only female in my class of 17 students studying Computing which highlights the gender gap and lack of female representation throughout the Computing and IT field. Hopefully Sapphire’s inspirational success will encourage other young females to get involved.”

Lydia said her decision to study at Northern Regional College was the best choice for her as it exposed her to experiences and opportunities she wouldn’t have had if she stayed on at school.

“Taking part in the WorldSkills UK series of competitions was one of the highlights of my time at the College.

“I was able to take part in the WorldSkills UK competition. This was a highlight from my time at the College. We made it all the way to the UK National finals, giving us the opportunity to travel to Scotland to take part in the competition.”


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