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Nicky Speakman, owner of Code Galaxy, on why being involved in T levels is great for business

Published on 15/03/2022 by SGLAS


Nicky Speakman has come a long way since his own time as a student at Blackpool and the Fylde College where he went from being a school leaver to gaining an honours degree and PGCE.

Now the owner of local software and systems development company Code Galaxy, he employs a five-strong team of developers, engineers and innovators to produce solutions for businesses in multiple market sectors.

In the last year, Nicky has taken on Reece Harris, a B&FC T level student, who is spending his 350-hour plus industry placement at the firm. And it’s certainly clear from talking to both Reece and Nicky, that industry placements have also come a long way since the days when a couple of weeks’ work experience at a local company involved making brews, shadowing an existing employee and tackling nothing more taxing than the photocopying.

Reece is currently developing a piece of bespoke software for the company called Downtimer which is designed to measure the performance of websites and which Code Galaxy are ultimately hoping to add to their client product portfolio. As Nicky points out, the situation is a win-win. Reece gets the opportunity to gain the kind of experience that will be invaluable on his CV and Code Galaxy reap the benefits of having an extra pair of hands to develop value added products that their existing team might struggle to find the time to deliver. Nicky is also keen to give back to the College that supported him and the industry that has proved to be the source of his income and his aspirational career:

“It’s so important to me to support the industry placement of college students as it gives me and the team at Code Galaxy the chance to inspire the next generation of computer experts. It’s also an excellent opportunity to look for potential recruits and to see how someone fits into our closely knitted team before we commit to employing them. In Reece’s case, we’ve been incredibly impressed. So much so that we’re discussing offering him a degree apprenticeship once he successfully completes his T level qualification.”

And what does Nicky think Reece is taking away from his experience at the company?

Apart from gaining a wealth of industry knowledge in a modern working environment with all the latest software and tech, he’s also realising that work doesn’t have to feel like ‘hard’ work. We make a real effort at Code Galaxy to create an engaging and inclusive workplace - Reece has been on the work’s Christmas do and honed his table tennis skills. Now we just think of him as one of the team.”

So would Nicky recommend offering a T level placement to other employers and what advice would he give someone considering it?

“I wouldn’t hesitate to offer another student a placement following our experience with Reece. I would, however, say that it’s important to find the right student which is why we adopted a rigorous interview process to ensure that the arrangement would be beneficial to everyone involved. I also think you need a clear idea of what you expect from the placement and a plan of what you want the student to achieve during their time with you. Make sure these things are in place and I have every confidence that you will find the experience just as rewarding as we have at Code Galaxy.”

Jeanette Atherton, who is currently one of Reece’s tutors at B&FC and also taught Nicky when he was a student here, had this to say:

“I started teaching at Blackpool and The Fylde College in 2006 and Nicky Speakman was a student in my very first class.  Nicky has been an outstanding employer and role model to Reece whilst on his placement and has also provided some useful feedback in relation to the curriculum content.  This employer engagement is key to our continued success in preparing our students with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by digital industries.  I am elated that the first student I taught is Director of his own successful company and providing this exceptional placement opportunity for a student on the first wave of T Level Digital Production, Design and Development!”