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Digital whizzkids mean business

Digital skills are more of a necessity than ever before. Within our home, our workplace and now in schools; each generation uses technology in some way. Creating an understanding of opportunities that technology can bring to the younger generation as they develop and hone their digital skills is now as important as learning to read and write.

St Oswalds Go Reboot Collage
While schools and teachers are incorporating "digital" into the curriculum as much as possible, the fast pace at which technology moves makes it a constant challenge.

South Tyneside Council are offering schools across the borough an insight into the region's tech sector. Providing an opportunity for both teachers and students to experience how digital companies operate, the skills they value and the types of careers available - tech and non-tech.

Both primary and secondary schools are taking part in Go Reboot, a week long programme which is created with industry and delivered by Sunderland Software City to educate and inspire students.

Schools are sponsored by South Tyneside Council to enrol up to 30 students onto the programme, which includes group participation working on a project set by a business in the tech sector - with a brief to achieve and aims to complete.

A recent Go Reboot programme saw a group of Year 5 students from St Oswald's CE VA Primary School visit DXC Technology's Digital Transformation Centre where they were presented with a business challenge. The solution was presented in pitch format to the business and resulted in the introduction of a dedicated space for staff to "chat, chill and create".

Jenna Ingoe, Strategic Partner Lead at DXC said: "We were so inspired by the enthusiasm of the group from St Oswald's, their ideas on how to improve our work culture were outstanding and we were delighted to implement our Chill Out room for staff to relax in and come up with creative ideas!"

St Oswalds Students Ipad
Iain Usher, teacher at St Oswald's CE VA Primary School added: "The whole programme really fired up the students, they were fully engaged throughout all of the sessions and I saw their confidence build throughout the week - it was a fantastic experience and will certainly stay with them as they go through school."

Go Reboot has also been delivered to Year 9 students in both Boldon School and Mortimer Community College. The programme was adapted to suit KS3 students and included exploring careers and how to move into job roles in technology businesses.

Jill McKinney, Head of Skills & Training at Sunderland Software City said: "The lasting impact that the Go Reboot programme has with students is fantastic. The groups from South Tyneside were so enthusiastic - each morning they were hungry to learn more! The feedback at the end of the week highlighted just how much they had learnt and how the experiences have undoubtedly changed their view of the tech sector in the North East."

Businesses locating in South Tyneside benefit from our engagement programmes, the workforce of the future leave education with knowledge and awareness of career opportunities locally.

A word from Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council

Equipping our young people with the skills to enter strong and prosperous employment sectors is one of South Tyneside Council's key priorities.

With developments like the International Advanced Manufacturing Park set to create thousands of jobs, it is vital that we are nurturing a well-qualified, adaptable workforce to unlock the full potential of these economic opportunities.

We need to support employers and educators to work together in ensuring that young people and their parents understand how they can successfully build sustainable careers and support industry. To this end, we, along with our partner Sunderland City Council, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with education providers to deliver the skills and training that employers located at the IAMP will require of young people when they enter the jobs market.

It sets out an agreement to create 'an innovative, integrated and systemic pathway to deliver the learning, skills and talent development needs of IAMP and its wider supply chain'. 

This region has a reputation for manufacturing excellence and we need to ensure that our unrivalled skillset continues to grow with demand in this sector, as well as in engineering, construction and digital technology. 

That is why we are committed to engaging with young people via schools to support the STEM agenda. The world of engineering and technology are aligned, with more automation, big data and immersive technologies changing the skills requirement across the region. 

By 2020 it is predicted that the North East will be home to more than 2,500 software companies, employing over 28,000 people and contributing £2.5bn to the regional economy - it is vital that our future workforce has the skills and knowledge to maintain its competitive edge and access well-paid careers and progression opportunities.