NCFE's rising star

Following a year-long apprenticeship with NCFE, Chelsea Dryden successfully secured a permanent role with the company as a junior tester.

Chelsea’s journey as an apprentice began when she signed up for NCFE’s Rising Stars Academy. The academy was created to help address the skills shortage of IT workers in the North East, and it aimed to give young people a stepping stone to begin their career in IT.

The academy was a 15 week boot camp style, intensive learning experience. During the 15 weeks Chelsea gained a number of qualifications that are respected in the IT sector, including Microsoft Technical Associate (MTA) certificates and Network Fundamentals. The academy members also benefited from work experience across the business to get a feel for not only what it was like to work in IT, but also for a general office environment.

After she graduated from the NCFE Rising Stars Academy, Chelsea started her apprenticeship as a software tester. Chelsea said: “The work experience I was given was brilliant – rather than just shadowing, NCFE colleagues trusted me to take the reins and really get involved.

"The work experience not only gave me technical skills, but it also improved my communication skills. I was shown what testers do on a daily basis and was also lucky enough to see things such as the automation script and have a go at writing code, which is something that helps run tests faster and more frequently.”

While obtaining valuable work experience, Chelsea was also undertaking Level 3 diplomas. She continued: “I didn’t initially realise how much my diplomas would benefit me in my job role. Doing the qualifications helped as when I was shown the automated code, I could understand it and it helped me to pick it up more easily. I don’t have A Levels, so I needed some qualifications and these are directly related to my dream career.”

Chelsea would highly recommend an apprenticeship to other young people. “Thanks to this apprenticeship, I now have a full-time job with NCFE in the area I want to continue my career. The work experience gave me the confidence and the skills to do this job, while my qualifications provided the supporting knowledge. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and I’m only 18 years old, so I’m looking forward to continuing to build my skills and learning while I earn.”