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Tech Talent Scheme Launches in North East

Students will spend at least 45 days working with companies on live projects to develop tech skills

A scheme to attract new talent to the digital technology sector has been launched in the North East.

Gateshead College will collaborate with Sunderland Software City, PROTO: The Emerging Technology Centre and North East digital firms to produce the programme.

Students from the college will spend at least 45 days working with companies on live projects, and develop a broader range of skills that they can apply on different live projects.

Under the programme, students on placement are employed by Sunderland Software City – taking employment responsibilities away from the tech firms.

“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,” said Jill McKinney, head of skills and training at Sunderland Software City.

“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 and 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, added: “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.

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