Spotlight on women in computing – Loraine Johnston

Did you know more than 73,000 people work in ICT and digital technologies in Scotland? And Skills Development Scotland’s skills investment plan for Scotland’s ICT and digital technologies sector predicts significant growth in the number of opportunities in the industry itself and in other sectors which need digital and technical skills. From new start-ups to some of the world’s largest technology companies, there’s a mixture of exciting career opportunities to choose from.

Ayrshire College is encouraging more girls and women into ICT. With state of the art equipment and industry relevant courses, the College is well on its way to becoming a centre for excellence in ICT and digital technologies. Our computing and digital technologies department is promoting International Girls in ICT Day on 23 April to inspire girls and young women to consider careers in the growing ICT sector. We spoke to Loraine Johnston, Curriculum Manager for Business and Computing, to find out about what led to her career in ICT.


What did you do before going to college?

I worked for six years after completing high school. Jobs ranged from working as an advertising agency junior to a supervisor in a café bar at Glasgow Airport! Going into further and higher education has been invaluable to me. Without it, I wouldn’t have the career I have today.

How did you get into computing?

The first time I used a computer was when I was on a short media studies course and it was the newly released Macintosh Classic.  I went on to work in a PR company as a Junior Secretary using an IBM PC in the days before Windows!

My real early experience was the HND Multimedia Computing, which was a brand new course in the evolving area of computing. We developed software for CDROMs as the web hadn’t evolved at that time. I progressed to BSc Multimedia Technology and became a multimedia developer after I graduated.  A few years later I returned to higher education to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Multimedia Communications.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

I had to adapt to learning again after a six year gap.  Computers were new, as were the courses I was studying, so we really were the guinea pigs.  I had my own flat and had no option but to work part-time to be able to support my studies and myself. Computing is always changing and the biggest challenge is to keep up with these changes.

Describe your job on a day to day basis.  What are the highlights?

My job is really varied and every day is different.  I manage the Business and Computing curriculum department which includes looking after students and staff at Ayrshire College. The highlights are seeing people succeed and students being happy with their course.

What advice would you give to others interested in a career in computing?

As one of the fastest growing industries, there aren’t enough people in the UK to fill current jobs in ICT, let alone the predicated increase in jobs in the next 5 years. It’s also a brilliant sector for women to work in and progress, yet we are very much in the minority. At Ayrshire College, we want to encourage more women into this exciting area, to develop their skills and maximise the contribution to Scotland’s economy.

This is the perfect time to start a career in ICT.  The best thing to do is make the most of any course you study, learn the fundamentals (the technology may change but these don’t), teach yourself new skills and … practice, practice, practice!

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Ayrshire College offers a wide range of computing courses. Find out more at http://www1.ayrshire.ac.uk/courses/all-courses/business-and-computing/?duration=Full_Time.


RAISING ASPIRATIONS | INSPIRING ACHIEVEMENT | INCREASING OPPORTUNITIES

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