Cloud camp will help develop IT talent of the future

Novosco cloud technologist Myles Grey and service desk engineer Laura Henry launch this year’s Novosco Cloud Camp in partnership with Almac

THOSE who know what a Raspberry Pi is will know that computers come in all shapes and sizes (for those who don't, it's a very small computer). And those who know the IT sector will know that IT professionals do too. That is to say they come from all kinds of backgrounds.

I know IT professionals who have degrees and many who don't. I know some who started out in completely different careers and moved across. I know others who worked outside Northern Ireland and came back. And I know some who came her simply to work in our IT sector.

My own route into the industry came via a stint in the RAF, learning to be an electronics engineer, and then a period working for a large manufacturing businesses. I didn't have a degree, and increasingly the industry is viewing degrees as non-essential too.

Many of our team members at Novosco have come from what you might call non-conventional, and non-degree backgrounds, including some of our very best engineers. Some of them just developed a passion for, and incredible skill in, what they do with very hands-on experience.

That's certainly not to say that degrees aren't valuable; they can be incredibly so. But they aren't for everyone; and they aren't essential for many jobs.

That's why more and more companies, including ourselves, are taking on IT apprentices. It's also part of the reason we're running Novosco Cloud Camp this summer (August 7-11) with Almac at Belfast Metropolitan College's impressive Titanic Quarter campus.

Cloud Camp is open to students aged 16-17 from across Northern Ireland. It will provide them with hands-on IT infrastructure experience and invaluable learning opportunities.

Professional IT engineers and Belfast Met lecturers will facilitate the camp, which will provide experience in things like networking, Python programming, basic HTML programming, and creating virtual servers. And everyone who attends gets a free Raspberry Pi to learn with and keep too.

Some of those attending Cloud Camp this year, and those who attended last, may go on to do degrees at university; many of them may not. We would encourage them to do what they think is best to meet their career ambitions, and to always learn and develop throughout their lives – that's something we are very passionate about, and support our team members in.

But I would say to them that if they think a degree isn't for them, don't feel under pressure to do one. Take the route that works best for you and which you feel passionate about.

What I am most encouraged about is the very strong interest that we've had in Cloud Camp already. This gives me reassurance about the increasing enthusiasm there is to begin a career in IT infrastructure. There is already incredible demand for the kinds of skills that these students will be developing, and that is only going to grow in the future.

Whatever career route, the students at Cloud Camp chose to take, we feel privileged to meet and work with them. We very much hope that they enjoy and benefit from the experience, and that the IT sector benefits as well.

:: Patrick McAliskey is managing director Novosco, an indigenous managed cloud company with offices in Belfast, Dublin, Cheshire and Cork. It employs 140 people and works for leading organisations across the UK and Ireland, including many of Northern Ireland's top companies, UK health trusts, councils and other organisations.

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