In November 2012, Fitim Ismaili started as Director of Facilities at Noorderpoort, one of the largest ROCs (Regional Education Centers) in Northern Netherlands. He is now responsible for the overall business operations. We asked him to describe the years-long partnership with Bytesnet. You can read about it here, as well as his inspiring story and vision about modern education.
No Worries About Tomorrow’s Jobs
Those who have children of their own probably recognize this question. What is the future perspective when jobs become increasingly digitized, and more robots are introduced? Fitim’s answer is that, for example, auto mechanics still learn to change tires but, more importantly, they need to have knowledge of ICT. “To maintain a Tesla, you simply connect your laptop, and there’s no need to change the oil,” is how he clearly puts it. The dependence on ICT and connectivity is just as essential in the healthcare sector, where, without it, there would have been limited contact with family members in nursing homes during these times. That’s why Noorderpoort is continuously working on the jobs of the future, with the help of Bytesnet, among others, and wonderful things are happening in this regard.
The Digital Campus
We asked Fitim what he is most proud of. With great enthusiasm, he talks about the way Noorderpoort’s teachers continued to provide continuous lessons during the COVID-19 period. “When everything closed on March 15th, we were able to deliver a total of 4,000 online lessons within just 3 working days,” Fitim tells us. This is impressive and likely not matched by many other schools.
When everything locked down on March 15th, we were able to deliver a whopping 4,000 online lessons within just 3 working days.
There was, of course, never any planning for a pandemic, but Noorderpoort’s ICT department was well-prepared to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances. The digital campus boasts contemporary ICT, double data provisions, the necessary infrastructure, and all the required redundancy. “Our vision, that in the future, more data would travel over the lines and we needed to anticipate that, turned out to be accurate. Bytesnet’s additional lines and provisions are like buying a car with an airbag; you want to see them when you need them,” he points out. We find this comparison quite fitting.
A Workshop for Digital Craftsmanship
There is another initiative that demonstrates Noorderpoort’s forward-looking approach to the future. Fitim’s other source of pride is that they have established a workshop for digital craftsmanship, in a unique location: Kasteel Groningen. “There’s no better place to symbolically transition from the old world to the new world than by creating a digital castle,” says Fitim. Students there learn everything about digital security and the increasing connection of devices to the internet (IoT, Internet of Things). They also pay a lot of attention to the younger generation and how to handle privacy-sensitive information securely. This often leads to extensive discussions, which is valuable. There is also a media lab where they learn to look at the future in different ways. The areas of practice-oriented research, known as ‘practoraten,’ are given a prominent place there, emphasizing that they work with new technologies every day.
Creating the Jobs of the Future Together
The job market is changing rapidly across various sectors in our society. Fitim notes that Bytesnet is an excellent Groningen-based company with a commitment to education. They collaborate not only with us but also with universities and colleges, involving both students and teachers. Through intensive contact, we ensure that students are educated with the right knowledge for future jobs. New study programs are developed in collaboration with the business sector, including Bytesnet. Thus, a future data scientist coming from a university of applied sciences will still require traditional skills to design an application related to artificial intelligence, for example. In the future, we will still need “doers,” but in different roles. Therefore, data practioner will be a study program offered at ROC. Fitim has a specific concern that he emphasizes and calls for extra attention:
Lately, it has been noticeable in the national news that ROCs are facing a significant shortage of internship places in the Netherlands, which is now approaching more than 20,000! Companies like Bytesnet understand the need for internship positions, Fitim says. “The data center market, for example, requires professions in the fields of refrigeration technology, electricity, data, network knowledge, and sustainability. Therefore, they invest in future employees,” Fitim explains. His appeal to other entrepreneurs is to continue investing in future jobs in different sectors, even though it may seem challenging right now. “Despite how difficult it may seem now, it’s about the jobs of the future in various fields. Let’s strengthen our connections and reach out to each other, especially now,” he appeals.
About Noorderpoort and Bytesnet
Noorderpoort has 16 different schools, approximately 14,000 students, and around 1,400 employees, making them one of the largest ROCs in Northern Netherlands. Despite their size, they offer a lot of personal attention to students. Noorderpoort’s operational infrastructure, as a private Cloud solution, is located in the server racks of the d’ROOT Datacenter on the Zernike Campus in Groningen. Since ROCs deal primarily with personal and privacy-sensitive data of students and teachers, reliability, security, and data storage in the Netherlands play a significant role in choosing Bytesnet. In addition, Noorderpoort has described 17 sustainability goals in its policy, as set by the United Nations in the Climate Agreement. “It’s essential that we collaborate with companies that think sustainably and are eco-friendly, and that’s another significant reason for our long-standing partnership. Because in a sustainable planet lies the greatest future,” Fitim concludes.
On behalf of Bytesnet, we want to extend our gratitude to Fitim Ismaili for sharing his vision, and we look forward to facilitating the jobs of the future together for many more years.
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