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First steps into the digital industry

IT and computing students from Sunderland College have been given a head-start in the digital industry thanks to a new initiative with one of the North East’s leading technology companies.

Sunderland College has joined forces with digital delivery company Leighton to offer students high-quality work experience placements at the organisation’s Rainton Bridge headquarters.

Leighton has been working in the digital arena for more than 18 years and supports businesses such as Asda, Sage and British Airways with their digital strategy and transformation.

The students, Daniel Carrick, Joe Ditchburn and Daniel Elstob, have been on placement at Leighton throughout the summer, working as CMS data managers for the recently developed Footy.com.

This standalone company, which stemmed from Leighton’s innovation team, Leighton Labs, is an e-commerce website for football fans, and the students have been responsible for the population of Footy.com’s football product comparison website.

Joe, who is studying a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in IT at the college, said: “Footy.com has given me the unique experience and opportunity to discover what it is like to work in the IT industry. Working with the team at Footy.com has helped me expand my skills and has been a valuable experience which will help me progress with my course and career goals.”

The new initiative between Sunderland College and Leighton comes after the two organisations signed an official partnership agreement to formally mark their relationship.

As well as arranging work experience opportunities for students, the new agreement will see experts from Leighton advising on the college’s curriculum to ensure it meets the region’s skills needs.

Students will also benefit from masterclasses and guest speakers delivered by the company, as well as live projects set by Leighton incorporated into lessons, with students then presenting their ideas to its employees.

Jane Thompson, director of enterprise and commercial development at Sunderland College, said: “We are delighted to be working with Leighton to offer work placement and other learning opportunities which will be very beneficial to our students. Demand for employment in the digital and IT sector in the North East is expected to grow over the coming years, and we believe it is vital to work closely with businesses in this sector to make sure we are giving our students relevant training to meet the demands of employers.

“This new partnership ensures that our computing and IT students have the practical experience and skills they need to give them a head-start in their future careers.”

Lyle McCalmont, chief executive of Leighton, said: “We’re really pleased to announce our partnership with Sunderland College. It’s a great opportunity for us to be working with students in the local area and helping them to develop their skills for their chosen career path. Leighton aims to give the students at Sunderland College the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the digital industry.”

For more information about employer engagement opportunities with Sunderland College, email employers@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or call 0191 5116484.

To find out more about Leighton and its services, click here

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