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IT Crowd gets some girl power at Belfast Met summer camp

A total of 34 girls aged 15 to 19 graduated in front of the new Belfast Lord Mayor on Friday from a special IT summer camp aimed at helping them develop skills and get the foot on the ladder of a career in the rapidly growing industry.

The free of charge camp which was held at Belfast Met’s state of the art Titanic Quarter Campus ran from July 31 to August 4 and was aimed at helping young women – who are dramatically underrepresented in the industry - to develop their creative digital skills, learn how to make mobile phone apps and develop websites using HTML5 and CSS3.

The girls also got the chance to meet, chat and learn from successful females in the IT and digital related disciplines from firms such as Neueda, Deloitte, Citi and Liberty IT which sponsored the initiative along with the DfE funded Bring IT On programme and Invest NI.

The graduation event was attended by the new Belfast Lord Mayor who spoke with the girls about the summer camp and handed out their certificates.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, said:
“I would like to thank Belfast Met for running this fantastic summer camp, and to congratulate all of the participants on their achievements. Belfast is one of the fastest growing centres for the digital economy in all its guises, and it is important that we equip our young people with the knowledge and skills they need to participate in this growth. Regrettably, as in many walks of life, women are under-represented, and therefore the initiative of Belfast Met, and the various other organisations involved in this summer camp, has to be applauded.”

Director of Curriculum at Belfast Met, Dr Jonathan Heggarty said: “We are delighted that we have run this very popular summer camp for the last three years. The goal of Belfast IT Girls is to assist participants hone their digital skills and introduce them to leading professionals so that they get a taste of what it is like to work in the IT sector. There is a huge demand for talent in this growth area, and this reflected in Belfast Met’s wide range of courses developed in conjunction with industry. We designed this programme with industry partners in order to encourage female students to consider future education and employment within the exciting world of digital technologies. According to the Women in Science and Engineering STEM Workforce 2016 survey, only 18% of the UK workforce in ICT professional occupations and 19% in IT Technician occupations, are female. In addition, the percentage of women graduating from UK universities in Computer Science fell by 1% to only 16% of graduates in 2016. It is vital that this under representation of females in the UK ICT sector and in education is addressed and Belfast Met, which is a leader in IT education and training, is keen to support efforts in addressing this.

“Belfast Met runs a wide range of IT related courses, visit our website for more information or come along to our upcoming open days on August 23 and 31 from 9am to 2pm at our Titanic Quarter Campus.”

Lisa Sweeney, Head of People and Culture, Neueda said: “We were only too delighted to throw our support behind the Belfast IT Girls camp and congratulate Belfast Met for initiating such a valuable programme,”

“Neueda is keen to encourage more females to enter the IT sector and, in order to do that, we need to showcase the rich and varied career paths it offers.

“It is crucial that young people in Northern Ireland have the opportunity to expand their digital skills as early and as often as possible, igniting an interest in and passion for technology.

“Our team members were proud to act as mentors to the girls involved in the course. Hearing from the likes of Rose Kane, who was last month named Young IT Professional of the Year by the BCS Chartered Institute for IT, highlights the opportunities available to those within the next tech generation willing to grasp them,” Lisa said.

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