David Barker, Tech Centre founder
by David Barker
In 1987 I was 16 years old, living in Manchester and Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). I was told to lower my aspirations by my careers advisor because of my social background, that certain careers were not open to me and should aim for retail – however my dream was a career in technology.
Thankfully what changed my life – or rather saved my life – was when I was 13 years old I taught myself to code in my bedroom after being inspired playing games on the ZX Spectrum. It was this decision and self-motivation that helped me get an apprenticeship in 1987 with an educational software company that designed and produced games and applications to help children learn.
7 years later, in 1994, I co-founded one of the first internet start-ups in the UK producing websites and platforms and spent the next 10 years working with large corporations such as Intel, Microsoft and Cisco as well as large charities including Amnesty International, Oxfam and World Wildlife Fund.
In 2004, after recognising that we all need to do more to tackle the social issues we face in society, I exited my first company and since then have focussed on creating new social enterprise tech start-ups. My latest is The Tech Centre, which provides technology consultancy to charities and non-profits to help them make better decisions for how to use technology to achieve their mission.
The IT industry is a great sector to work in, with jobs and opportunities available for both creative and technical people of all ages and social backgrounds. It truly is an industry that can provide equality of opportunity for all. That’s why one of my volunteer positions is the Livery Schools Link lead for the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.
Last week we launched a ‘Kids Can Code’ competition for all schools across Northamptonshire to help kids get excited about a career in the IT industry and develop skills early on. These skills will give them a better chance to work in the IT industry on graduation, into jobs or apprenticeships, and away from a possible life of under-employment. Just like I did 25 years ago.