SYFIT and Uni-Tech

The South Yorkshire Fastrack to Information Technology (SYFIT) and Uni-Tech projects were responsible for providing training in ICT skills for over a hundred local unemployed people. The aim of both projects was to assist in the development of the ICT skills base in and around South Yorkshire while providing valuable ICT training and experience for local unemployed people. Working in partnership with local intermediate Labour Market providers, the project used the wealth of experience and knowledge in University central and departmental ICT sections to provide high quality hands-on training and support for the trainees.

SYFIT (2000-2007)

The SYFIT project was developed as a partnership between the Information School, Sheffield University, Barnsley Development Agency (BDA), Sheffield Centre for Full Employment (CFEE) and Secondary Schools in Sheffield and Barnsley through the City Learning Centres (CLCs).


Barnsley Development Agancy Logo

Both CFFE and BDA were committed to working in partnership with the University, City Learning Centres and Secondary Schools, to develop and support the project. A significant amount of funsing for the Project was provided by the European Social Fund (ESF).

Trainees received hands-on training in University departments and in schools in the South Yorkshire area, as well as internal short courses within the University. This was supported by external training involving practical courses and academic study in programmes such as the HNC in Computing, at Dearne Valley College. Additionally some trainees participated in the CISCO Certified Network Associate Programme (CCNA), which curriculum centres on teaching students to design, build and maintain computer networks.

The emphasis of the Project was on quality and commitment; providing high-quality academic training and first rate on-the-job training was a big attraction to applicants, encouraging a high level of commitment from the trainees throughout their participation on the Project.

The SYFIT project, an extention and development of the BFIT Project (Barnsley Fastrack to Information Technology), funded by the BDA which ran until 2003, finished in 2007. In all, the SYFIT Project provided twelve months training for nearly one hundred unemployed people from South Yorkshire. The high standard of training and support was reflected in the exceptional employment rate with over 80% of trainees finding full-time employment, some within the University of Sheffield.

Uni-Tech (2009-2011)

The objective of the Uni-Tech project was similar to that of SYFIT. Funded by the CFFE, as part of the Yorkshire Forward initiative, the project provided training within University departments, with the support of internal courses provided by the Information School.

Trainees received hands-on training and experience in academic and support departments within the University for six months. This was supplemented by a series of courses covering many aspects such as computer building, fault diagnosis, networking, software packages and content management systems.

Again, the emphasis of the Project was on quality and commitment. As employees of CFFE, trainees were supervised by ICT section staff in various University Departments. Administration for the Project, as well as several in-house training courses, was provided by members of the Information School ICT staff:

  • John Holliday - Project Manager
  • Paul Fenn - Assistant Project Manager
  • Andy Stones - Project Coordinator

The project provided training for nearly thirty unemployed people from the Sheffield area.

Trainee Case Studies

Here are a few examples of the projects' successes.

Geoff was unable to carry on work in heavy industry due to a series of serious accidents. He had been interested in computers for over ten years, so he enrolled on a Diploma at Northern College in Barnsley. He then applied for a position on the SYFIT project, hoping that it would give him the vital experience needed for an IT career. He completed his HNC in Business Information as part of his training and managed to find a permanent post in the University, where he later helped to train SYFIT and Uni-Tech trainees.

Martin had been unemployed for three years, but had been working as a volunteer for a community organisation in Sheffield, doing a range of IT-related tasks. Martin completed the project and found permanent employment as an IT/Multimedia technician in the school where he was on placement.

Nathan had been unemployed for 18 months. He had a huge interest in computing, but no experience. Nathan was placed in a University department, and then a local secondary school. He completed an IT Essentials course and found full time employment at a local school.

Shabaa was unemployed and working voluntarily as a Data Analyst in a Sheffield school. He had a BSc in Computing and Management Sciences, but could not secure a permanent position due to insufficient experience. Shabaa managed to find a full time position as IT Technician in the school where he was on placement.

Ian studied at Sheffield Castle College before completing a BSc (Hons) at Sheffield Hallam. During his time at Sheffield Hallam he had a one year student placement and a job as an IT Helpdesk Operative. He was unemployed for around six months after finishing his studies, although he did find a 3 month contract, but was then unable to find employment for a further 16 months. On the SYFIT project he was placed in CICS on Frontline Support, was offered a permanent post there at the end of the Project, and still works for CICS.

Peter was unemployed for 17 months until he was offered a position on the SYFIT Project. He had studied on various courses before this, obtaining NVQ & HND certificates. After the Project, he was employed on a permanent contract by CICS in Voice and Data where he still works today.

After school Stephen undertook OND and HNC courses before attending a three year City & Guilds Electronic Servicing Course at Barnsley College. He was offered a position on the SYFIT Project and was initially placed in the Electrical Engineering department before moving to the Management School. He was offered permanent employment by the University in the Geography Department where he still works now.