Tackling the skills gap in the region’s tech sector

An innovative project to help address the emerging skills gap in the North East digital and tech sector is set to be expanded following its early success.

DevAcademy is working in partnership with Gateshead College to train young and adult candidates in the use of some of the latest software packages being used by IT and creative tech companies.

An intensive six-week accelerator course, jointly designed by DevAcademy and Gateshead College, covered the fundamentals required for entry level posts as developers, testers, support analysts and other tech roles. Candidates aged from 18 into their mid Forties developed skills and knowledge in Agile methodologies, project management and UX/UI design. Traditional courses at colleges and universities are either more curriculum based or struggling to keep pace with the fast-changing software technologies.

The first successful cohort of 23 people ‘graduated’ from their course run by Gateshead College at the end of 2016. By early January 2017 over a third of these have been offered employment in various North East businesses. Advice and assistance will also be given to those still searching for suitable roles.

Rachel Peacock, managing director of the DevAcademy, said: “We’re delighted with the results of this first cohort from Gateshead College. We found the teaching staff highly flexible and responsive to our requirements along with the needs of individual students.

“Once successfully trained we start matching candidates to our clients with live vacancies. Candidates are also given multiple interviews and chances to meet decision makers in blue chip companies or smaller businesses in the area.

“There is no cost to the candidate for the course; and employers enjoy the benefit of a ‘try before you buy’ status. If a company wishes to, they can offer a permanent role to a candidate after the initial period of working for DevAcademy.”

John Deary, curriculum operations manager at Gateshead College, said: “Candidates on this accelerator programme are taught softer skills as well as the technical, making them better equipped for the workplace.

“This bespoke programme is a great example of how Gateshead College is tailoring courses for specific industry sectors and needs. Candidates learn a mixture of skills that are not necessarily curriculum based or qualification driven.”

 

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The DevAcademy intends to run other courses with Gateshead College and is even looking to ‘export’ the idea to other parts of the UK.

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