Businesses can now tap into a pool of tech apprentices, with a new talent programme about to produce more than 100 potential new employees designed to bridge a growing digital skills gap in the North-East.
Stockton-based RAW Digital Training has teamed up with DurhamWorks to create a new Digital Talent Service, taking unemployed 16-24-year-olds from County Durham and giving them work-ready IT skills.
More than 100 learners have already accessed expert training from industry leaders in the fields of games development, cyber security, website creation, digital marketing and search engine optimisation as part of the programme.
Now many of them are ready to be placed into firms looking to recruit digital staff, with several success stories already.
And businesses from Newcastle to Teesside can access the learners completely free, and benefit from the new skills and talent in their workforce.
The programme is being delivered by Stockton-based RAW Digital Training, in partnership with DurhamWorks, a County Durham Youth Employment Initiative funded by the European Social Fund, designed to get 16-24-year-olds into employment through training and apprenticeships.
RAW managing director Joanna Wake said: “There’s a massive increase in jobs being created in these sectors in the North-East – they’re growing at twice the rate as any other sector.
“At the moment we’re seeing a huge scramble for high-level website developers. This programme enables us to help businesses fill their talent pipeline, by bringing in people who will stay with the company and be nurtured, and ultimately bridge that gap.
“We’ve had an exceptional response to the programme, but we’ve also seen a very high retention rate, with the majority of learners staying with it throughout the course duration, which has been very pleasing.
“They’re working hard, they’re hungry to change their career path and getting into what will be good, well-paid jobs that will boost the local economy.
“Now we already have more than 100 young people ready for apprenticeship or entry-level jobs in digital, tech and IT.
“It’s an ideal free service for businesses, whether you are a non-digital company looking for your first social media marketing apprentice, or you’re a massively digital company looking to build your internal talent pipeline.”
Scott Carney, RAW Digital’s Talent Service manager who is overseeing the programme, added: “The courses are short, intensive and focussed. We showcase the digital opportunities in the region and the various routes to access employment in the sector.
“We work closely with our learners to ensure they retain their skills by practicing their learning, and we ensure they have a much wider set of knowledge and soft skills to ensure they are super job ready when they come to interview.
“We’ve seen some really strong candidates, some of which we have placed very quickly.
“They’re learning more about real roles within businesses and we’ve already seen candidates go into jobs in app design, web development, gaming and social media.
“We are training new candidates and supporting candidates into jobs constantly. We have candidates to suit every entry level, from apprentices, to entry level after college, to graduates.”
The DurhamWorks project has received £12.78m of funding from the European Social Fund and Youth Employment Initiative as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.
More about the RAW Digital Talent Service can be found at www.rawdigital.training/netalent
• Pictured (above): RAW Digital Training managing director Joanna Wake and the firm’s Talent Service manager Scott Carney (right) with learners (left to right) Oliver Hunt, Jordan Tobin, Niale Robinson and Graeme Adcock at Durham Cathedral.