From education to employment

New IT suites give training boost to region’s digital sector

People looking to join the North East’s fast growing digital sector can enjoy state-of-the-art
facilities after the launch of two new IT suites at Bishop Auckland College.

Employers wanting to upskill their staff will also be able to benefit from the new investment at the
Woodhouse Lane campus, which includes 86-inch smart interactive display boards, 28-inch 4K
gaming monitors, bespoke gaming benches and chairs, and a pro virtual reality suite.

The suites will be used by students on a range of new full and part-time digital courses covering
in-demand areas for the digital sector including hardware and networking, cyber security, software
development and eSports.

The £91,000 investment is from a £750,000 advance allocation from a Towns Fund award to finance
projects that will have an immediate impact in the town and help build a stronger and more resilient

Bishop Auckland secured £19.9m from the Future High Streets Fund in December 2020 and £33.2m
from the Towns Fund last June. This is in addition to grants secured through the Levelling Up Fund,
Restoring Your Railways, the Heritage Action Zone and Durham County Council’s Leisure
Transformation programme.

The £33.2m award followed a successful bid led by the Bishop Auckland Town Deal Board, set up by
Durham County Council and other key partners including Bishop Auckland College, The Auckland
Project and the local business community to prepare a Town Investment Plan to secure funding.
Investment in digital skills and other training is one of the key areas for the Government scheme, alongside urban regeneration, culture and heritage, connectivity and infrastructure.

Natalie Davison-Terranova, Principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Auckland College and skills lead
on the Bishop Auckland Stronger Towns Board, said: “The college has carried out extensive research
to establish the key in-demand skills in the region’s digital sector, which is creating jobs almost three
times faster than any other sector.

“Opportunities are in four main areas: hardware and networking; cyber security; software development
– programming, coding and web design; and eSports – games design, creative and programming.

“The new digital suites have been designed to offer the ideal environment and equipment for students
to develop these high-level IT skills.”

Employers looking to upskill their workforce can secure free IT training, with staff eligible to study
Level 1, 2 or 3 course modules funded via the European Social Fund (ESF).

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships and
Stronger Town Board member, said: “The digital sector is a key area of growth in the region and one
that offers significant opportunities for our young people.

“These new facilities will not only enable students attending the college to gain the skills to access
a wide range of career paths, it will also allow those already in employment to develop their skills
and knowledge. I am pleased that we have been able to support the launch of the two new IT
suites through the Stronger Town Fund.”

Students and employers interested in full and part-time digital courses at Bishop Auckland College
can find out more information and enrol on the website at

Photo: Principal and Chief Executive Natalie Davison-Terranova is pictured in one of the new IT suites with
IT/eSports lecturer Anthea Caulfield and students Alana Thornton and Alex Wenzel.

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