Ministers to honor UK's top 'IT Girls'
The 'A' Star Awards are aimed at encouraging more women to take up careers in Information Technology and redress a serious skills shortage in the industry.
Girls who scored top marks in 'A' Level Computing or Scottish Advanced Higher Computing examinations will receive their prizes from Ministers at ceremonies in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff. Awards for England will be handed over in London at the same time as the overall UK winner is announced in late November.
The Awards are an initiative by Edinburgh-based Axios Systems Ltd, a world leader in Help Desk and IT Service Management software. They are being run under the auspices of 'e-competitions,' the UK umbrella body for IT skills competitions whose members include the British Computer Society and leading companies in IT.
The winners are:
Northern Ireland - Brenda McGoldrick, Drumroosk Ainawley, Co. Fermanagh (Mount Lourdes College, Enniskillen)
Wales - Rebecca Clarey, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan (St Cyres School)
Scotland - Tracy Wallace, Ayr (Queen Margaret Academy, Ayr)
Each will receive a cheque for £250, trophy, certificate and laptop computer donated by High Street consumer electronics chain Dixons.
The prizes will be handed over respectively by Education Ministers Martin McGuinness, Jane Davidson and Jack McConnell.
"The fact that Ministers are presenting the Awards is welcome recognition of the urgent need to increase the number of women in IT which is crucial for Britain's future," said Ailsa Symeonides, Sales & Marketing Director of Axios Systems.
"UK industry is underpinned by IT, which provides the services which businesses need to help them implement, exploit and maintain technology. The main barriers to industry competitiveness are skills shortages and recruitment difficulties. If women were to enter the industry in similar proportions to men, the skills shortage could be solved in a single step.
"Government, education authorities and the private sector need to work even harder to show that computing offers exciting careers for women as well as men."
Chris Langley, Managing Director of Dixons, added: "As the world becomes increasingly digital, we're keen to demystify computing and help level the playing field for women to work in IT. It really is an industry that should be open to all. We're very proud to support this competition and wish all the finalists the best of luck."
Dixons recently launched an £800,000 partnership with the University of Edinburgh to create a new Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The Awards are supported by six major examination awarding bodies throughout the UK. Two candidates from each of these bodies, including the national winners above, have qualified for the UK final which takes the form of a tie-breaker competition, held over the Internet and judged by an independent panel of experts. The overall winner's prizes - to be presented in late November - will include £250, laptop and a trip to a computer fair in Europe.