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Sarah Gillespie is completing her Apprenticeship with local employer Fujitsu

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A fully trained pharmacist who gave up her day job to study Software Development has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Department for the Economy's Apprentice of the Year.

Sarah Gillespie is completing her Apprenticeship with local employer Fujitsu, and has already won four awards for her hard work and commitment to team and customer delivery, and was recently shortlisted by the Department for the Economy as Northern Ireland’s Higher Level Apprentice of the Year. She also works as an Apprentice Ambassador for Fujitsu, STEM, and has represented her employer in the media and recruitment events.

The local woman is the first female student on the HLA Foundation Degree in Software Development at NWRC to have achieved the top grades in both units.

Sarah said: “I left school to study Pharmacy but after a few years of locum work around the country I felt that I wanted a change. I took a job working in a lab to give me time to consider my options and it was while working here that I heard about I.T. Apprenticeship opportunities with NWRC and Fujitsu. I completed my level 3 Apprenticeship last year and I’ve been able to move into a P/T foundation degree in Software Engineering which I will complete in 2020.

“I work in Fujitsu’s Shared Services team which helps resolve technical issues on behalf of customers across the business. Together with colleagues, I investigate user error reports and create solutions.  It’s a diverse role which involves a lot of creative thinking and problem solving.

“The thrill of solving a problem on behalf of a client is very rewarding. It’s like finding the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle and all of sudden everything works as it should.”

Sarah says she’s enthusiastic about the job prospects in the I.T. sector which could benefit herself and other young people.

She continued: “While it’s well known that there is a demand for IT and technology skills in Northern Ireland, what I’m most excited about is the breadth of roles available as trends develop. From experts in Artificial Intelligence to cyber security, there is an ICT role to suit almost everyone’s interest and skills set. “

As well as studying and working, Sarah also dedicates her time to promoting computing as a career at local schools, and considers herself as a female role model for future apprentices.

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