COVID-19 accelerates growth in the region’s digital skills

July 29, 2020

One of the North East’s leading colleges has continued to support businesses and apprentices in the development of digital skills as the COVID-19 lockdown confirmed their importance in the workplace

When lockdown measures came into place in late March, Gateshead College quickly switched to online teaching to ensure student learning and support to businesses remained unaffected.

Consequently, the college has seen its digital learning and apprenticeship provision continue at pace during lockdown, supporting businesses on their digital transformation journeys.

A key focus of this has been working closely with firms to develop and start digital apprenticeships that are tailored to their current and future needs.

Assistant principal Deni Chambers says: “At Gateshead College, we were already prepared to deliver a virtual learning environment and that’s what we’ve done and continue to do as face-to-face teaching is still limited. Throughout lockdown, we have supported the future workforce in highly technical and skilled job roles including data analysts, software engineers and digital marketing content producers.”

“While GCSE and A Level exams have been cancelled this summer, through the use of remote moderation technology, our apprentices have been able to continue to sit both their regular module exams and their final assessments at home.”

The health crisis has shone a light on the importance of businesses to ensure their workforces are digitally adept and nimble.

“Digital skills truly are taking centre stage and over the last few months we’ve been working with some big-name employers including Sage, Accenture and Home Group, Deni continues. “It’s not just about an off-the-shelf training programme either. We work diligently with employers, codesigning apprenticeships that meet the workforce development challenges a business is facing, personalising each course so that it teaches the skills needed.”

Interest in Gateshead College’s digital-based apprenticeships has continued to rise over the last three years and the college currently offers around 40 digital training courses.

The college has also created three new bespoke apprenticeships, which businesses are already benefiting from. Sage, for example, approached the college for support with a very specific job role that resulted in the creation of a highly tailored software testing apprenticeship. The first apprentice started with the college at the height of lockdown and when their
training is complete, they will be a fully qualified software tester. The college also started working with Durham-based Atom

Bank, the UK’s first app-based bank during lockdown, to develop specific apprenticeships for roles including a DevOps engineer and an iOS developer. Additionally, the college is also delivering bespoke apprenticeship programmes for the bank for an internal auditor and a finance apprentice.

Jade Holliday, internal recruitment lead at Atom Bank, says: “The college team have worked efficiently and effectively during lockdown to ensure we understand the full process surrounding apprenticeships within our organisation.”

“They’re happy to help and support at all stages and are even managing our recruitment process for both our DevOps and iOS Developer apprenticeships, which is a huge support in the current climate. We’re looking forward to building the working relationship and bring in further apprenticeships through Gateshead College in the future.”

Gateshead College
Photo: Apprentice Michael Hastings from Sage UK during a remote learning session with his teacher Dean Lewis at Gateshead College.

For more information about Gateshead College’s digital apprenticeships and to discuss training programmes specifically tailored to your business needs, please contact:

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