Toby Bryson

Toby Bryson
Toby at ComTech IT

Toby Bryson (18) studied for a Foundation Apprenticeship in IT Hardware and System Support at Forth Valley College and managed to upload a Modern Apprenticeship role from his successful work placement.

The former Wallace High School pupil from Causewayhead, Stirling starts his MA at ComTech IT based in the Back O’ Hill Industrial Estate in his hometown in September 2021.

Toby, said: “This course has certainly opened doors for me.  On the second year of the course, you start a work placement, in an area near you.  Along with two other apprentices I started a placement at ComTech IT and am now working with them on a summer internship.  I hope to start a Modern apprenticeship with them in September.

“A Foundation Apprenticeship course in IT Hardware and System Support would suit anyone interested in computers and technology.  It is the practical side to technology so it’s not coding and programming.  You could come into this course without much knowledge and still be able to excel. You attend the course on two half days during your school week and the way of learning at college suited me better.  In the second year you get on-the-job training one day per week. This course has helped me to get a job and clear focus for the future which is far more than I could have imagined from a college course. The experience should help those completing the FA to get a job in the IT industry.

“I chose to study a Foundation Apprenticeship after listening to a guest speaker who visited our school in S4.  I wasn’t confident about getting the best grades in my Highers, and taking a course over two years without traditional exams sounded amazing – however, there are a few tests you need to pass, so you aren’t completely off the hook!

“With all the options on offer I wasn’t sure which course would be best, but as I was building my own PC, I was interested in learning how to assemble hardware.

“I started off in the old Falkirk Campus, but it was exciting to move to the new campus with upgraded PCs. In the IT department the PCs need at least 8gb of RAM to run effectively for running virtual machines.

“My lecturers Brian Candlish (year 1) and Pete Kelly (year 2) were great, easy to engage with, and I liked their teaching style and they treated us as adults.  They created a relaxed environment to learn, and both provided me with an enormous amount of support over the course of the FA. 

“Studying at Forth Valley College was a good experience for me.  I was a novice when I started, and it wasn’t what I was expecting.  I got a lot of support and during the first year I managed to learn about networking, security and server administration. Year two was when the work placement started and it was more difficult due to the covid pandemic, with lockdowns etc. The College supported me through Microsoft Teams which made me able to complete the five units.  With Pete’s help I completed the units quickly and even finished early, which is something I am quite proud of.   

“The best bit for me has been the work placement at ComTech, being out of the classroom and learning in an office. When you go onsite to their clients there is always a challenge - every day is different and a new learning experience.

“In the future I hope to become a fully qualified IT Technician by completing a Modern Apprenticeship in IT and Telecommunications Level 3 SCQF 6 and then SCQF 8.”