Creating the next generation of digital talent

Steph Doyle Head of The Digital Academy at The City of Liverpool College explains why digital skills are in demand more than ever, with employers consistently looking to improve their workforce’s knowledge.

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Words by: Steph Doyle, Head of The Digital Academy, The City of Liverpool College

As our world becomes increasingly digitally focused, digital skills are in demand more than ever, with employers consistently looking to improve their workforce’s knowledge, especially since working from home was introduced. This means that careers in digital are sought after more than ever, and those who study digital-based courses will have fantastic opportunities to develop, with the average salary for a tech-based job in Liverpool at £45,000.

Giving our students real-world experience and ensuring they can hit the ground running in their chosen career is our top priority and the perfect opportunity for them to get a head start. Given the current climate, it has never been more important for us to ensure our students are industry ready. Through our strong partnerships with businesses across the city region and beyond, we can be sure that they will get the most out of their experiences.

Our £2.5 million Digital Academy in the heart of Liverpool’s thriving Knowledge Quarter boasts unrivalled facilities, including our very own motion capture suite and the latest specialist technology, all designed in partnership with industry experts and partners, to ensure our students gain valuable, real-world experience.

Course pathways include coding, graphic design, cyber security, game design, animation and so much more, with the opportunity to join as a total beginner or an advanced learner. There are opportunities for all levels.

For us, it’s not just about courses, it’s about careers and setting our students up for successful, fulfilling futures, as well as providing businesses with the opportunity to spot future talent.

One of our recent partnerships which we’re particularly proud of, is with virtual reality (VR) developer, VizBox, who we partnered with to create a VR experience for children with additional needs, as a cost-effective solution for use in hospitals and primary schools.

Students on our Digital Games Design & Development course were tasked with the live brief for Vizbox, to help create a virtual reality app that replicates a sensory room – an effective tool often used to support children with additional needs.

Students used our new, cutting-edge motion capture suite and VR studio to develop the app, which will be rolled out in local primary schools.

We’re also working with social enterprise SAFE Regeneration, on its plans for a £33 million neighbourhood in Bootle.

As part of the partnership, students from a range of College departments will contribute to the development over the next few years. From construction and leisure tourism, to hospitality, business planning, arts and creativity, digital and graphic design, students will have the opportunity to work on a real life, local project, contributing to Bootle’s regeneration, while gaining valuable work experience, whether through placements with contractors or in local bars and restaurants.

Another of our successful partnerships is with The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, one of the country’s leading cancer centres, and construction giant, Laing O’Rourke. The partnership was designed to inspire students with the digital technologies used to develop the brand-new cancer centre and promote the modern careers now available in the construction industry, using digital design skills learnt through games development.

For our students to be given the chance to work with a multinational organisation such as Laing O’Rourke and the NHS to develop a truly innovative tool for The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is an opportunity like no other. It has been incredible to see our students using our new state of the art motion capture suite, to create such an important tool that will make a difference to so many people.

Nicky Hutton, Advanced Practitioner Therapeutic Radiographer at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, said: “The facilities at The City of Liverpool College are wonderful and the motion capture suite has allowed us to replicate The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre Building incredibly well. I’ve been blown away by the quality of the work the students have created. Their technical skills are excellent, and we will shortly have a brilliant app that will be of massive benefit to our patients.”

These projects, among many others, have allowed our students to apply the skills they have learnt at the College to a setting they may not have expected, demonstrating how transferrable the techniques and knowledge they gain with us are and in turn, creating the next generation of digital experts. If you would like to find out more about how your business could work with our Digital Academy, contact Steph Doyle, at steph.doyle@liv-coll.ac.uk.

This article first appeared in DQ Issue 21 | Winter 2021

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