A STUDENT has converted his childhood love of tinkering with technology to a full-blown IT apprenticeship thanks to the support of his college and a local business.

Darlington College student Sam Norris now spends a day in the classroom and the rest of the week working with IT experts Resilient Business Systems in a successful collaboration between education and industry.

“The perception among some young people of industry placements is that you are there to be a skivvy but this is so wrong and I can’t believe how much I am being thrown into important work – I love it,” said Sam, 18, of Croft-on-Tees.

“I already feel part of the team and am being asked for my input on a host of technical issues. I never expected to be doing what I am at this age and I am really enjoying it.”

Sam’s interest in technology was sparked at the age of 12 when his family used to offer him old mobile phones to take apart.

After leaving Hurworth School, he joined Darlington College’s two-year Level 3 hardware course, which included an industry placement which led to a Level 3 Infrastructure Technician Apprenticeship with RBS.

“The apprenticeship covers software and hardware, which is great, and even in my spare time you can normally find me working on my own server at home,” said Sam.

“I am hoping at the end of the apprenticeship that I will be in a position to be either kept on by RBS or stand a better chance of securing a job somewhere in the IT industry.”

Darlington College’s Industry Placement Reviewer Callum Wilkinson said: “This is a standout example of what can be achieved when education and business work together.

“We would like to thank Resilient Business Systems for their ongoing support of the industry placements and apprenticeship schemes. It’s great to see one of our students making an such excellent start to his career.”

The industry placement programme has proved so successful that the college has been selected to run a new qualification called a T level in 2022. The qualification will cover the digital, education, health and science, business and engineering sectors, providing students with the skills needed for a successful start to their careers.

Darlington-based RBS was founded by Andrew Read and his wife Michelle to provide IT and cyber security support to businesses regionally and nationally.

Andrew said: “There are too few IT technicians out there and we felt that working with Darlington College would be an ideal opportunity to encourage more young people into the industry.”

Michelle added: “We presented to the Level 3 IT classes last year and decided to take on two students for a couple of afternoons a week.

“Sam showed so much promise that we ended up bringing him onboard to the business as an apprentice in August, in collaboration with the college.”

Sam added: “I would encourage all students to give the industry placements some real thought. They teach you transferable skills and it’s been a great way for me to get my foot in the door and begin my career in the IT industry.”

For more information on opportunities at Darlington College visit www.darlington.ac.uk/employer-portal/.