When the closure of Ebbw Vale was announced, there was a lot of support to ensure that people were assisted in finding a different job. Some of this involved support for retraining in a field other than steel, and you could get a grant in support of this type of retraining from ELWa (Education and Learning Wales).
The first part of the course was to try your hand at some Pascal coding, the reasoning behind it being that if you struggled at this stage, then Java would probably not for you. This was followed by three consecutive folders on various aspects of Java, each chapter with exercises attached. You were supposed to do those and some on-line ones as well and email them to your on-line tutor.
On two occasions we also had a week long in-house session of the course, presumably trying to highlight the important bits to pass the final exam. Not sure if this course was really all that successful, since out of a group of just over ten people, only two passed, including yours truly (although admittedly I only scraped through). So there I was with a certificate of “Sun Certified Java Programmer”.
Did it land me a job in IT ? The hell it did ! First of all, when I started looking for a job in IT was just at the time when the dot com bubble burst, so all of a sudden everyone was looking for Java programmers with five years experience (i.e. from the first years Java was developed) or people who could convert C++ to Java. Also, I must in hindsight admit that my portfolio of IT knowledge was rather meagre, and did not include essentials such as databases, query tools, and more than just one programming language.
So I picked up the thread in Ebbw Vale for the last year, managed to transfer to Llanwern, and learnt real programming and web design by doing it and learning from others in the process. I was even told “don’t you come here with your Java, we’re doing VB here”. Still, I could in a limited way apply my knowledge in Java applets, and when .NET came along , well, that was just Microsoft’s version of Java, wasn’t it ?