Hundreds of young people have been inspired to consider a career in digital, thanks to some of the region’s top tech talent.
More than 140 students from schools across the Tees Valley attended Middlesbrough College’s Women in Digital Day, where they took part in interactive workshops covering everything from coding and cyber security to 3D modelling and video editing.
Students then heard from guest speakers including Giovanna Mateus, games designer at Double Eleven, and Alice Brown, digital, social media and marketing apprentice at Broadacres Housing Association – who spoke about their own roles in the industry as well as the exciting careers that are available in the region.
With demand for specialist skills in the region, Middlesbrough College’s ‘Women in Digital Day’ aimed to shine a light on the sector, promoting the opportunities available to young people and encouraging them to consider a career in digital.
Anne-Marie Chiswell, director of Programme at Middlesbrough College, said: “Despite a thriving tech scene, the number of students studying computing and digital courses is declining year on year, both in our region and nationally.
“As much as our role at Middlesbrough College is to build digital skills for the future, it’s also about inspiring the next generation to really explore digital as a career option and promote the opportunities available to them.
“The digital community here in the North East is one of the fastest developing in the UK and there’s so much potential on our doorstep. We hope our Women in Digital Day gave young people across the region a window into an exciting future that could be waiting.”
Among the students in attendance was 13-year-old Zoe Dewing from Laurence Jackson in Guisborough.
She said: “The Women in Digital Day has been really good fun and has opened up to me what is actually available in the digital industry.
“I took the Cyber Security workshop and really enjoyed it. The college has amazing facilities, and you are treat like an adult. We have learnt so much today and found out what is really like to have a career in tech.”
As part of its mission to inspire the next generation, Middlesbrough College also regularly host ‘Digifests’, interactive computing events for 13–16-year-olds to encourage young people to get involved and try out some programming, networking and explore the world of virtual reality and emerging technologies.
Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive at Middlesbrough College, said: “Despite the growing number of jobs in the sector, especially here in the Tees Valley, the number of students choosing to study digital related subjects is sadly dropping.
“We’re always looking for ways to turn that decline around and to inspire people from a young age to think about digital as a possible career option.
“Digital spans across all industries, it’s part of every business and is growing considerably. Here at Middlesbrough College, we’re not just training young people but also helping them get into work and secure high-quality jobs.”
Earlier this year, Professor Brian Cox CBE helped Middlesbrough College launch £20m of investment into its campus, including a new state-of-the-art Digital Centre among other facilities.
The new centre will host industry-leading programming suites, cyber labs, video editing suites, a games design suite and a full TV and film studio.
Launching this autumn, the centre will deliver all-new digital T Levels courses including Digital Production, Design & Development, Digital Business Services and Digital Support Skills.
The two-year technical qualifications, which are equivalent to three A Levels, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that students are workplace ready upon completion.
T Levels include a work placement of between 45 to 60 days and cover skills in games development, IT, computing networking, software programming, cyber security, digital video production and digital video production.
Anne-Marie added: “T Levels are high quality, exciting routes into employment, apprenticeships or further study that give learners the technical skills most in demand in the jobs market.
“They link to the College’s wider course offering, allowing learners to progress seamlessly on to foundation degree and degree level.”
As part of its investment into its campus and facilities, the College is also launching MCClick, a new free laptop loan device scheme for students to help eradicate digital poverty, ensuring all of its students have equipment to support their studies. The scheme will help learners develop key digital skills to boost employability and support them in their future careers.
As well as T Levels, there are routes for everyone with courses ranging from Levels 1, 2 and 3, which are ideal for young people leaving school, to degrees, Foundation degrees and Access to Higher Education (HE) aimed at adult learners and those wanting to learn higher level skills.