Middlesbrough College, already known for its innovative approach to education, this week launches the UK's first Digital Apprenticeships in partnership with Digital Youth Academy.

The college now offers up to 50 Digital Apprenticeships, which focus on digital training for young people looking to enter businesses, many of which suffer from this skills gap. During the course apprentices work for local businesses in the Tees Valley while studying the trade under DYA trained tutors at the college.

These Apprenticeships seek to remedy high youth employment, not only in the Tees Valley, but also nationally, by helping young people transform their enthusiasm for social media into a real life skill and an opportunity for employment.

By connecting young people with businesses looking for digital skills, the apprenticeship seeks to provide 'vital jobs,' and 'an excellent, hands-on route for young people setting out to create exciting careers for themselves.'

Mike Hopkins, college principal and chief executive, is optimistic that the Apprenticeships will provide 'robust jobs' and 'thriving careers,' at a time when employment remains precarious for many.

By offering these Apprenticeships DYA founder Penny Power hopes to harness an already eager digital generation with a much-needed skill for the workplace, in an attempt to "grow the economy and reduce unemployment," by combining, "social media, industry and education".

Hopkins looks at the downfalls of many businesses, which fail to use the full potential of social media, in order to further online presence, and believes the digital generation could benefit by offering their expertise.

As a recent member of the Gazelle group of colleges, which focus on combining entrepreneurship with education, Middlesbrough college together with the existing popularity of digital in the Tees Valley, provides young people with the right environment, expertise and opportunity to really increase their chances of employment.

Working also with the North East Chamber of Commerce and the National Apprenticeship Service, the DYA Apprenticeships have a wealth of support to maximise this opportunity for young people.

"We are already having conversations about taking the Digital Youth
Academy to Australia and Asia," said Power, who believes the potential of DYA Apprenticeships could go worldwide,
"I really see Middlesbrough as the starting point to grow this knowledge into a global digital industry."

Principal Mike Hopkins shares in her enthusiasm and envisions these Apprenticeships as a starting point for "showing the rest of the UK the way forward".

Daisy Atkinson

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