Teenagers win work experience of a lifetime at Sheffield software firm

Teenage students from The Sheffield College have won 45-day industry placements at booming Sheffield software company WANdisco.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 11:19 am

Will Thornhill, aged 18, and George Allsop-Hayes, 16, are spending one day a week at the new UK head office, Kollider at Castle House, working alongside engineers, testers, customer service and IT teams.

They were selected after completing problem-solving challenges set by the college and company.

Will and George are enrolled at the WANdisco Data Academy, which launched at the college in September to train the next generation of computer experts and entrepreneurs.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

George Allsop-Hayes, left, and Will Thornhill at WANDisco at Castle House in Sheffield.

Will, who is from a dairy farming family in Derbyshire, said: “There are a lot of IT courses around but not many with a connection to a company like this.

“The founder David Richards is a local guy who grew up in Sheffield and is now a successful technology entrepreneur in California.

“It shows you can do whatever you want if you work hard. It does not matter if you were born in a big metropolis or the middle of nowhere.”

George Allsop-Hayes, an electrician’s son from Lincolnshire, said: “The things that can be done with computers and technology are mind-boggling.

“I doubt people ever imagined that one day, we would have a computer in our pocket that would be more powerful than the spaceship that took us to the moon.

“My parents think this course is fantastic. My dad had a Commodore 64 computer when he was growing up but nothing like this. Here I am coming to Sheffield and working for a global company like WANdisco.”

The pair are working with different teams within the firm and learning how to deploy the company’s data software for customers across the world.

David Richards, founder and chief executive of WANdisco, said: “We congratulate Will and George for winning their placements against strong competition and are impressed they are fitting in so well at our business.

“We are delighted with the progress of all 20 students at the WANdisco Data Academy. Sheffield needs bright young people with the right attitudes and skills to join its growth industries and have successful careers.”

The WANdisco Data Academy features specialist speakers, workplace visits, special projects, masterclasses and references.

At the end of the course, all students are guaranteed a job interview at WANdisco.

Rachel Topliss, head of employer academy partnerships at The Sheffield College, said: “Feedback from our students at the WANdisco Data Academy has been incredible. Their high attendance rates show they are really enjoying their studies and the course, and are committed to getting the skills they need to go further in their careers.”

For more information about the academy at the College’s next open days on January 28 and March 9, visit www.sheffcol.ac.uk.