One of Manchester Digital Academy's brightest apprentices has won Software Developer and Tester Apprentice of the Year 2022 at the BCS IT and Digital Apprenticeship awards in London on Tuesday, July 12.
Emalin Matthews, who works at Coop Technology in Manchester, was nominated for the award by Manchester Digital, which launched its industry-led Level 4 software developer apprenticeship in 2016.
The newly launched awards recognise those who have made a difference and are rising stars in their profession, demonstrating that they are making a positive impact in their careers and as role models for other apprentices.
Emalin had a varied work career including working as a clinical coder for the NHS, working for retailer Superdry and as a teaching assistant. Her potential as a software developer was spotted when she attended an information evening with a friend. Emalin gained an apprentice position at Coop Technology and shone in every part of her two-year learning journey, including coding, professional skills and becoming a mentor and advocate to encourage other people into the tech industry.
Emalin said: “I was thrilled to be presented with this award - I didn’t think for one minute that I would win and was actually a little emotional when receiving my award! I feel very proud of myself and it feels amazing to have my hard work recognised!”
Emma Grant, head of talent and skills at Manchester Digital, said: “Emalin was a stand-out student from the beginning, right from when she first came to our initial information evening. She has a brilliant and varied work history plus had already self-taught herself some coding and always been interested in computers and tech since the 90s. She has never been known to turn down an opportunity and has been an amazing mentor and spokesperson at a number of our events to help encourage women and people of colour to consider a career in the tech industry.
“She continues to break down barriers for herself and for others starting on their journey - and we are incredibly proud to have worked alongside Emalin on her journey. We’re thrilled that she has won this award and it is very well-deserved.”
The judges said: “What was most remarkable about Emalin was her non-traditional route into the tech industry as she had worked in many different sectors from Superdry through to the NHS.
“As a woman of colour, Emalin has a great understanding of issues surrounding diversity and inclusion within the tech industry. She has demonstrated outstanding levels of professionalism and consistently exceeds the objectives set by her employer. She has spoken at several events for girls and women and truly encompasses the term role model.”
Annette Allmark, head of apprentices at BCS, added, “It was great to see so many entries to our inaugural IT & Digital Apprenticeship event, which celebrated some spectacular talent. The need for digital skills never stands still, and the demand for digital talent has never been higher so the profession needs more apprentices, following in the finalists’ footsteps. We wish all those recognised for their achievements every luck in their future.”
Manchester Digital Academy was launched in 2016 to enable truly accessible and inclusive early talent pathways into the tech sector across the North West. The Academy is anchored in industry-led teaching and supported mentoring and technical learning for sustainable talent growth. At its heart is co-design and co-delivery to increase diversity in the industry by creating new pathways as well helping increase the talent pipeline for tech businesses who are currently seeing talent shortages for software developers.
Technical training is co-designed and delivered, meaning there is greater exposure than many other provision pathways out there, learning directly from developers from some of the largest tech employers in the North West. The curriculum develops every year to ensure that it is kept up to date with the fast-moving industry. This unique model only takes on the brightest and best applicants and works hand-in-hand with industry leaders to provide bespoke technical training for diverse early talent to grow with their businesses.
The event took place at The Reveller near the Tower of London on Tuesday, July 12 with a three-course meal and award presentations.