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College seeks future Oscar award-winners as it premieres new course

Sunderland College lecturer Matty McGrory and visual arts curriculum leader Mike Jaques in the college’s new NextGen studio

Sunderland College will ensure that breaking into the creative sector will become more of a reality than ever before for students in the region.

Launching in September, the newly created NextGen Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills – comparable to three A Levels – is a vocational course, which will provide the skills and experience young people need to start a career in these entertainment industries.

From creating visual effects for the latest TV or movie blockbuster to developing the next videogame sensation, students will be given all the tools they need to become the next generation of makers.

“We’re delighted to be one of the first colleges in England and the only college in the North East to offer this new two-year course,” said Mike Jaques, curriculum leader for visual arts at Sunderland College.  “Designed by some of the best in the business, including Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft Reflections, Double Negative and Framestore, in collaboration with educators, this course ensures young people are industry ready with the right skills and knowledge for the workplace.”

The NextGen Skills Academy, a pioneering organisation backed by both government and industry investment, has developed the course with its partner awarding organisation AIM Awards and it is designed to replicate real-world working environments in the entertainment industry, with a progression into relevant apprenticeships and higher education courses in mind. To achieve this, students will have unprecedented access to mentors and industry briefs from a group of leading companies in the sector

Students will study in the college’s state-of-the-art visual and performing arts building in the purpose-built NextGen studio which will feature professional work stations with industry standard software, along with a twelve foot cinema screen, cinema projector, 7.1 surround sound and conference facilities.

Mike added: “NextGen provides a unique opportunity to ensure learners in the North East are given the right skills and knowledge for the computer games, animation and VFX industries. These industries, along with the IT and digital sector, is forecast for significant growth in the North East in the coming years, and Sunderland College is dedicated to helping meet the skills demand in this area.

“A whole new suite of facilities with the latest technology will be available to students, helping them to develop the skills they need to apply for higher education courses or apprenticeships.”

For young people with a passion for creativity and entertainment, the NextGen Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills can be the first leap to a life working in one of the most dynamic and exciting sectors possible. Students wishing to join the course will need GSCE grades A-C in English and Maths. They can find out more about the course at Sunderland College here or register with NextGen Skills Academy here.

In addition to the extended diploma, NextGen is supporting industry partners in the creation of four higher apprenticeships, including two roles in games, and two roles in VFX.  The games apprenticeships are quality assurance technician, led by Rebellion, and community coordinator, led by Ubisoft. The two VFX apprenticeships are junior 2D artist, led by Double Negative, and assistant technical director, led by Framestore. These apprenticeships are expected to be available to young people later in 2015.

A higher apprenticeship offers a work-based learning programme, which combines on the job training with study, allowing employers to create a highly skilled workforce that is ready to meet the future demands of their businesses.

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