A scheme to attract new talent into the digital technology sector has been launched in the North East.
Gateshead College has teamed up with Sunderland Software City, PROTO: The Emerging Technology Centre, and North East digital firms to produce the programme.
Students from the college spend at least 45 days working with several companies on live projects, acquiring the skills they need to build a successful career.
Students can develop a broader range of skills that they can apply on different live projects, while companies that traditionally struggle to offer placements due to lack of resource can trial and assess potential new talent from the scheme.
Under the programme, students on placement are employed by Sunderland Software City – taking employment responsibilities away from the tech firms.
Jill McKinney, head of skills and training at Sunderland Software City, said: “We know many digital firms face resource challenges that prevent them from offering work experience placements, particularly smaller companies which might not even have a spare desk or PC for the student to use.
“With this programme, businesses don’t have to worry about taking on students as temporary employees or providing extra equipment or facilities – we do all of that for them. We already have four companies involved and our aim is to eventually increase that number to 100.”
Five students are currently involved in the programme. They are all studying for a BTEC extended diploma in software development at Gateshead College, which is currently trialling the extended work placements with digital firms ahead of the T-levels roll-out next year.
Tracy Foreman, assistant principal at Gateshead College, said: “It’s been brilliant to work with Sunderland Software City, PROTO and digital firms that really get what we’re trying to do, which is to help industry find new and innovative ways of tackling skills shortages.
“The beauty of this programme is its flexibility; people can learn computer coding or app development skills that can be applied across several companies and projects. By doing this we’re breaking the mould, delivering something which hasn’t been done before in this sector.
“As part of the new T-level qualifications, there’s a much greater emphasis on digital businesses to support more young people through extended work placements which, in the long run, will help companies get the skills they currently lack.”
Firms that have signed up for the initiative include gaming firm Tombola, app developer Hedgehog Lab, software specialist Geek Talent and digital development agency Enigma Interactive.