A look behind the scenes of NCFE

So much goes on behind the scenes at NCFE and we thought you’d like to meet some of the amazing people that work here. Steven, Senior Software Developer in our IT Department, discusses his journey to NCFE and what drew him here.

Name: Steven Skedge

Age: 24

Role: Senior Software Developer

Department: IT

I recently joined NCFE as Senior Software Developer in the IT department. I had applied for a variety of companies however NCFE stood out to me due to their energy, commitment to their staff and their agile nature. I was lucky enough to be offered the role and I’ve really enjoyed my time so far.

Like many students in the UK, at 16 I felt as if the ‘done thing’ after GCSEs was to progress to A Levels at Sixth Form, and then onto University.

I successfully passed my GCSEs gaining a large number of A*s to C and then went to Sixth Form where I studied a mix of Sciences however, half way through my first year of sixth form, I was excluded and then had to look for alternative means of Further Education.

A path had been so engrained into my mind in school, that the sudden diversion terrified me. However I motivated myself to find an alternative route and decided to join a PEO level 2 in Electrical Engineering at Newcastle College. I really enjoyed it and progressed onto a summer Level 2 IT User Skills course which included Functional Skills.

After successfully completing these, I progressed onto a Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT (Computer Science before the new name) at Tyne Metropolitan College, where I really learned to understand what a vocational route offered me as opposed to a standard A Level route. I learned to manage my time and focus my attention on balancing work to reach deadlines and as my course contained no exams, I was able to focus on my reporting/essay and writing skills.

Throughout my time at college I worked at McDonalds were I also completed an apprenticeship level 2 in Catering and Food Safety and progressed on to become a Shift Manager.

I did well at college and my lecturers pushed me to apply for university as they felt I could gain an offer and progress to achieve well there. I wasn’t convinced but applied anyway and to my surprise was accepted onto the BSc Computer Science degree at Newcastle University. I was the first person in my family to go to university so I was completely unsure as what to expect.

I found my degree very difficult in the first year and the pressure was huge. As I hadn’t sat exams for some time, I found it difficult to get used to the format and although I excelled at the coursework. I was determined though and through hard work and the support of my lecturers, I eventually graduated achieving a 2:1.

During my degree, I applied for a summer volunteer placement at Dynamo North East, a networking company for the tech industry and went on to work there during my final year to help build a new website and take on admin duties. Through this placement I met an executive from Opencast Software, a development consultancy that provides software/development skills. It was through this executive that I was offered a role as a Junior Developer at Opencast Software when I finished my degree.

After finishing my degree I began working permanently for Opencast, working at a variety of client sites and gaining skills experience with agile practises and modern methods of developing. I progressed in my second year of employment to the role of Lead Developer on a project for a client and led a small team of developer/testers to create a modern web application.

After two years of working for Opencast, I decided I’d like a change and came to NCFE. I’m currently working on a modernising project as my team have been focussing on modernising the current NCFE systems and the development/testing practices within the business. The commitment from the team to continually improve and develop makes for a really exciting workplace and the NCFE values are a part of everything we do in the department and throughout the business. 

As I came from a vocational route myself, I’m interested and invested in using my skills and experience to improve the quality of our offer to colleagues, centres and learners. I’m really looking forward to what the coming year brings!