Developing a digital-savvy workforce

March 5, 2020

In the next five years, digital will be part of almost every job role – whether you’re a healthcare professional, a promising athlete, a truck driver or a lawyer. That’s why Gateshead College is embracing digital tech in all areas of its curriculum

At the heart of Gateshead College’s commitment to developing the future digital workforce is its partnership with PROTO. It’s been six months since the two organisations joined forces, providing students special access to the facility and its studios. In that time, more than 400 college students have visited the emerging technology facility; learning from their experts and working with new technology and immersive experiences.

Rachel Burdis, tech sector lead at Gateshead Council, reflects: “It’s been fantastic to welcome so many students from the college to PROTO and what has been really interesting is that the majority of these students aren’t studying on digital and tech courses.

“The college realises that the digital sector is not just a sector in its own right; it cuts across everything. The workforce of the future needs to be digitally savvy and the college understands this. The teachers are embedding digital tech in all curriculum areas so that their students get the skills they need for a successful career and employers get the skills they need to grow, develop and compete.

Rachel continues: “What’s been really exciting is that more young women are being introduced to PROTO and digital technology through their studies, including those looking to pursue a career in both healthcare and nursery education.

“Students recently got to experience British Airways’ fully immersive #FlyVR when it exhibited at PROTO. The multi-sensory VR experience captured the students’ imagination and now they’re exploring how immersive content can be used in healthcare, such as first aid training.”

Health and social care students at the college have used VR to examine internal organs. They were able to virtually and visually compare a set of healthy lungs to those from a patient with lung disease and also look at the impact that a cardiac arrest has on a heart, making their learning more immersive and interesting.

Sports science students will also be making the most of PROTO’s motion capture technology. After recording an athlete undertaking a personal training session, they will then be able to analyse athletic performance, technical expertise and use the data to assess potential rehabilitation issues.

Rachel adds: “Digital technology is transforming the education sector. The visual nature of VR is having a positive impact on the way a student recalls facts and key information. By bringing the subject matter to life, the students are more engaged.

Councillor Malcolm Brain, cabinet member for economy, says: “I’m delighted that PROTO’s relationship with the college has had such a positive impact on their students. Through the use of PROTO’s digital technology, the college has been able to introduce innovative ways to enhance their students learning, ensuring that these young people are not just job-ready, but ahead of the curve. We’re committed to making sure everyone in Gateshead thrives and partnerships like these promise that.”

Businesses are already seeing the benefits of the college’s approach to developing a digital-savvy workforce.

Gateshead Care Call, a telecare alarm and response service for older, disabled and vulnerable people, has employed a former college healthcare student. Jesu Peralta, who made such a positive impact during his work placement with the organisation that he was offered a job as a Care Call assistant.

Lorinda Russell, manager at Gateshead Care Call, says: “When Jesu came to work with us on placement he really stood out. He is so positive and willing to learn and, because he learned a lot about digital tech at college, his ICT skills were so good that he was able to help our team to work better and more efficiently.

“Jesu picked things up really quickly and was so professional. He was even able to do some programming of the units that then went out into the community.

“We’re very proud that Jesu is now part of our team. He is an extremely hard-working individual who is using his knowledge and experience in healthcare, combined with his digital skills, to ensure we give the best service to some of the most vulnerable people in Gateshead.”

Gateshead Care Call helps residents to remain in their own homes by providing a response and monitoring service which uses assistive technology. Each resident has a telecare system they can use for emergencies, help and advice to contact a specially trained team of staff. The company can also opt to use things like GPS tracking and door sensors, fall detectors and automated medication dispensers, all of which can support people living with dementia and other health issues to continue to live as independently as possible.

Jesu continues: “Working at Gateshead Care Call is so rewarding and it’s an excellent fit for me and my knowledge of the different health issues affecting the service users. I’m really lucky to be doing a job I love and to also be using the digital skills I’ve learned.

“In the future I want to work in adult nursing and I know I will continue to change and adapt the way I work to embrace new technology as it emerges. Digital technology is transforming every industry and this includes the health sector.”

Gateshead College

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