Hartlepool Sixth Form College is to launch a Digital Academy ready for September 2018. The new academy will teach young people a range of digital skills to support economic growth in this sector, in line with the Tees Valley key economic priorities.

The Digital Academy will be situated at the Sixth Form’s Brinkburn site, and will deliver Level 3 education and training in digital software, coding, cyber security, virtual reality, games, animation and special effects.

The Sixth Form will also deliver specialist NextGen digital skills qualifications, along with only seven other colleges in the UK.

Sunderland College, who merged with Hartlepool Sixth Form College last September, already has strong links with the digital industry and a reputation for delivering sector-focused software development, coding, games design, animation and digital special effects programmes.

Ellen Thinnesen, Principal and Chief Executive of Sunderland College, said:

“Strongly aligned to the UK’s industrial and digital strategies, this exciting new development within Hartlepool will see young people specialising in digital innovation, whilst developing the technical skills necessary for progression into a wide range of careers in what is a rapidly growing digital economy right across the Tees Valley and wider North East.”

Sunderland College is working closely with industry leaders to lead the way in the co-creation of programmes that support the government’s digital agenda on a regional and national basis.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership have identified the digital sector as having a global significance.

Mark Hughes, Head of Hartlepool Sixth Form College, said:

“We are delighted to be launching a new Digital Academy for the young people of Hartlepool and beyond, to support in developing digital talent for the future.

It is a signal of our focus on providing digital technology focused skills and career routes that meet the needs of businesses and which directly contribute to the region’s economic growth ambitions.”

Sunderland College are currently working with Aim Awards, ESL, The British Esports Association and UKIE to deliver the UK’s first college Esports qualification.

The College is leading the way in digital innovation and has recently invested over £12,000 establishing a new Esports studio. Mike Jaques, Curriculum Manager for Digital Design said:

“Esports, which is essentially competitive gaming at a professional level, is a £1 billion industry that is rapidly growing. As a result, there is expected to be a huge demand for staff to work within the industry.

“Our Level 3 Games, Animation and Special Effects students will be the first in the country to be able to complete a Level 3 Esports qualification and to experience how Esports events are planned, managed and delivered.

They’ll also have the opportunity to compete in a newly established regional Esports team.

We are currently the only college in the North East involved in the inter-college British eSports tournament and are thrilled to be sharing our expertise with our colleagues at Hartlepool Sixth Form College.”

For more information on the new Digital Academy or digital courses at Hartlepool Sixth Form College visit www.hpoolsfc.ac.uk or ring 01429 294444