A tech firm has partnered with a high school in Dumfriesshire to address local IT skills challenges.

ETB Technologies has teamed up with Dalbeattie High School to create a new programme to help young people set out a future career path in the industry.

According to recent research by digital infrastructure firm Equinix, 67 per cent of IT decision-makers in the UK view a shortage of IT skills as one of the main threats to their business. 

ETB sells refurbished servers, storage, and network equipment globally, and will now be sending one of its engineers into Dalbeattie High School to deliver interactive sessions to S3 pupils. 

The programme started this month with a session on the key components of a server, the differences between a PC and a server, and how to strip and rebuild a computer. Pupils were also able to gain an insight into the world of work, the skills involved and the possible pathways into various IT careers.  

The students will also be offered the opportunity to visit ETB’s engineering labs and workshops to experience life working in the tech sector, where the skills they are learning through the programme are in high demand.

Due to its rural location where finding employees with specific skills can be a challenge, ETB hopes the new partnership will encourage more local youngsters into a career in computing.

ETB’s managing director Nick Stapleton said: “In our experience, most school or college level computing courses only cover some networking basics and have very little focus on servers and storage solutions. 

“It’s great Dalbeattie High School is actively trying to broaden the knowledge of its students and raise awareness of the range of career opportunities available in the IT hardware industry. We’d like to see more schools and colleges follow their lead.

“We expect to offer this programme annually to pupils interested in working in our sector, at Dalbeattie High and hopefully other schools or further education providers too. Perhaps some of these pupils will even end up as part of the ETB team in the future.”

Ross Kennedy, physics and computing science teacher at Dalbeattie High School, said: “The school has worked with local employers for many years to develop our pupils’ understanding of industry sectors and career opportunities and to boost their employability skills. However, is the first time we have established a partnership with an IT company. The partnership with ETB was formed after a change to our curriculum, which allowed us to offer our pupils computing as a subject option. 

“It has been great to get ETB on board and develop a course that’s delivered in the context of a real-life local business. Increasing pupil awareness of the range of careers that are available to them on their doorstep is vital, and incorporating this into lessons is an excellent way of preparing pupils for learning, life and work. 

“Relating learning to real life allows pupils to appreciate the purpose of what they’re doing. They develop their understanding of the skills that employers are looking for so that they can better prepare themselves for the world of work after they leave school. They also make contacts in the industry, which can lead to work placements, apprenticeships and ultimately careers.

“So far, the pupils are really engaging with the programme and are particularly enjoying the practical side of the course.”

Ewan Richardson, S3 pupil at Dalbeattie High School added: “I really enjoyed learning about a server and the different components inside it. It was interesting to see how it’s similar to the PC I built in class. I didn’t know what ETB Technologies was and I didn’t know there was a computing company in Dalbeattie. I’m now thinking about a career in computing when I leave school.”