Taking a lead in the teaching of technology is Bradford College, which has forged successful links with employers both locally and nationally.
By Darren Greenwood
Central to this is its students attending industry events to meet employers and learn the latest technologies and employers attending student presentations.
Bradford College has a £10million Advanced Technology Centre, which funded by the Skills Agency, opened in 2015 on the Alexandra Car Park, by the main Great Horton Road Campus.
The three-storey 3,600m2 building has a capacity for 650 students and houses facilities for computing, business, accounting and law courses- including ophthalmic dispensing labs, computer suites and enterprise spaces, alongside study areas and comfortable rooms for group working and socialising.
Elvir Kesedzic, programme leader in Network Infrastructure and Security, says there is much technology in Bradford and his students succeed in getting jobs.
This September, the college will launch two new courses in Networking Infrastructure and Security Software Engineering. The new three-year course, or four years with a foundation year, are essentially an update of current course.
This is in addition to a wide range of other tech-related courses, including City & Guilds courses in Computer Aided Design, which uses advanced technologies, including 3D printing.
Elvir said: “We expect students to go onto a range of jobs, helpdesk, security, cybersecurity, developmental roles, front and back end support, with a focus on storage and other skills.”
The college claims success with students, saying many are employed by leading employers across West Yorkshire and some joining global giants like Cisco and IBM. All who graduated last year got jobs.
Among the ‘success stories’ are Robert Jeffery, who graduated in 2012, and is now Technical Director (CTO) at NGS UK Ltd and Epaton Ltd in Leeds, who recently wrote a book on Cisco technology. The college is an accredited Cisco Academy.
Elvir said: “We are talking to these guys all the time as to what skills are needed. We keep good contact with alumni students.”
As students start their courses, in year one, they are paired up with students in their third years. They go to code clubs or training sessions, they go out to schools to help teach children, they also attend events, such as those organised by IT firms or the national pro-tech user group organisation TechUG, which stages two events a year in Leeds.
The college also takes part in the World Skills UK Live at the NEC in Birmingham, which in December 2019r saw Hamza Kumran, 18 achieve Bronze in the IT Support Technician category, using skills he gained on his BTEC Extended Diploma in Computing – Networking and Systems Support.
Hamza, who lives in Bradford, is now studying a Computing Degree at the University of Huddersfield and hopes to get a job in IT.
WorldSkills UK Live 2019 after putting into practice skills he had learned while studying for a
BTec Extended Diploma in Computing – Networking and Systems Support
Elvir continued: “We are also keen to work with local organisations in their training needs. We work with them to develop the skills of the Bradford technology sector. We are open for projects, open for advice, open for companies to promote their products through tech talks or events at college.”
Among the other ‘success stories’ are Kelvin Charles, who graduated in 2016 with a BSc in Computer networking and systems and now works for Cisco as a security consulting engineer.
The 30-year-old has had many previous jobs, including retail, the military and transferring patients to hospital.
Kelvin chose Bradford College as it was local and credits it with him getting the job with Cisco. However, it meant moving to its Reading office before he was able to return ‘home’ and work remotely.
The father of a young daughter said: “This is ideal for me. I have the flexibility of being able to manage a personal life at the same time as pursue a career. I have a small girl and can pick her up and take her to school.”
Kelvin advises people to work hard on their courses, saying students only get out what they put into them. For Kelvin, he won a highest achiever award in his final year.
“It comes down to education, certification and your willingness to work in this industry.”
However, he admits, it may be harder for students around here, believing the larger firms and those offering the better paid jobs do not come up north to recruit as often they might compared to recruitment in London and the South East, perhaps wrongly suspecting the skills they need might not be here. Hence, why he initially had to work in Reading.
Jamal Amjum came to Bradford from Pakistan in 2010 and worked in a bakery; baking, cooking and packing, until studying a BSC in Computer Networks, graduating last year.
The 36-year-old said Bradford College offered the networking course he sought. His project was about cybersecurity and at his presentation event last year, he was introduced to the CEO of ECSC Ltd, which is based close to the college.
Jamal works as a cyber security researcher/analyst for the 20-year-old ECSC, the UK’s longest-running full-service cyber security information provider,lauding the college for his success in getting the job.
“The college has open days for graduate students and final year students can present projects to employers. The instructors are very helpful. They push you to attend seminars and expos. Bradford College will also do their best to fill any gaps you might have, including soft skills, how you present yourself; they look at weaknesses as well as strong points.”
Jamal added: “I tried to dream bigger and achieve my goals. Today, I feel I have played my role and achieved a position a thousand times better.”
Eduard Adam came from Romania to Bradford to do a BSc course in computer networking and systems support, also graduating last year.
The 24-year-old had always been interested in technology since a child and did programming at high school. Eduard had skills in programming but thought networking would be more interesting, with Bradford College having the right course he sought.
“The course was very practical. We always had a full lab of equipment. We had a networking society to create projects. We always tried to be at the forefront of technology.
“We got to meet the big companies. Employers would come to college and give presentations.”
Eduard now works as a network support analyst at Sicl Ltd near Armley, Leeds, a role which came from Sicl Ltd seeing his final year presentation at the college and offering him an interview.
“My company is happy with the college and has a close relationship with them. We have other of its graduates working here. Sicl comes to the final year presentations, just to scout basically.
“Yes, there is opportunity in Bradford. We are also close to Huddersfield and Leeds.”
The Sponsor for the Final Year computing degrees and related presentations is Eclipse Legal Systems, a case management software company based in Little Germany.
Head of Service Graham Hannam, 53 from Yeadon, says the company has built up a good relationship with the college “because we want to employ the best people we can.”
“The best way to influence the graduates is to get your foot in the door, to get them informed as to what your business is about and see if we can influence what they learn as well.”
Eclipse presents at college recruitment fairs, it has built up relationships with lecturers and works with a recruitment agency at the college.
In the past year, the company recruited four of its graduates, working with Graham in product and technical support, helping the 25,000 global customers who use Eclipse’s software.
“Because we have a close relationship with the college, we get students to come in and visit us. We sponsor their final year presentations and by talking closely with the college, their graduates understand our business. This gives us them a head start when it comes to recruitment.”
Due to the Conavirus crisis, such presentations and events are on hold.
But Graham added: Once everything is done and dusted, we will get their students to come in an have a visit. There’s a number of things that we want to do with them.”