Andrew Bruce, a recent recruit in the CCEA ICT Team explains the best things about working in the NI education sector.
I have to be honest; I never really intended to work in CCEA. I’d spent the better part of twenty years working for North American technology companies and never really expected to do anything else. The fact that the Northern Ireland Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment was looking for people with a background in software development was somewhat unexpected. I really shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, CCEA can’t just go out and buy an examination processing system, so they just have to build one themselves – and for this they need IT people!
Given Northern Ireland’s vibrant software development environment, I’m sure that there are plenty of people at any time who are considering their career options. For me this has generally meant looking at the usual Foreign Direct Investors, many of which are very fine employers. Yet with my move to CCEA I managed to find something a bit different that has worked very well and provided a competitive compensation package. I thought I’d pass on mytop five favourite things about working in the N.I. education sector. Maybe you will find them useful when considering your next step....
You get to live at home
Most of us over 35 know that the glamour of regular business travel soon wears off. Working in IT in Northern Ireland often means working for a company that has offices or customers elsewhere in the world, and this can involve regularly spending time away from family and friends. The great thing about CCEA is that it’s based in Belfast and it serves local people, and for this reason you can live at home and have a much greater chance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Massive focus on quality
Unsurprisingly, people would tend to get upset if you got their exam results wrong. This means that we have to be tireless in our quest for quality in the systems that we provide, and as such we’re accredited to standards like ISO9000/TickIT and ISO27000. Given the on-going level of change in the qualifications arena, maintaining the focus on quality can be extremely challenging, but hey, life would be very boring without a challenge or ten!
Cutting-edge approach to software development
Due to the focus on quality, the CCEA ICT team tends to be really forward thinking about the way it does business. We operate an Agile software development process, and utilise cutting-edge tools and practices. We’re always looking for ways of improving the way we work, and in line with CCEA’s Investors in People accreditation, there are always plenty of opportunities to learn new skills.
Opportunities to be innovative
In my view, the education sector is currently at a real watershed in terms of how technology is used. This provides loads of opportunity to really make a difference. Right now we're deploying new applications that will create some of the biggest changes in the administering of qualifications in N.I. in the last twenty years.
Making a difference
And finally, on a very personal note, I’ve found it hugely rewarding to know that I’m making some sort of contribution to the local education system. And I get paid to do it!
Programme Manager: Qualifications Modernisation
T: (028) 9026 1200
CCEA will be recruiting for a number of software development specialists and other IT vacancies. Look out for job adverts on Sync Ni and www.ccea.org.uk soon.
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