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Working together to support tech talent

How can businesses and education providers work together?

Ahead of the Rocket Hack – a digital hackathon designed to generate innovative smart transport solutions – Gateshead College’s Deni Chambers and Nick Camara, Global HR Director of Nomad Digital talk about how business and education can work together to support tech talent in our region.


Deni: Tell me about Rocket Hack, what is the aim of the event?

Nick: The aim of our event is to foster the idea of innovation with the North East and to encourage people to get involved and to support them in a way that seeks to reward people for their original thinking. Furthermore, our support post event is to ensure that people’s efforts are reinforced by involving companies to advise on both technical and financial initiatives. What’s different for us is that we will not look to maintain ownership of the IP of any wining (or not-winning) entry paving the way for the originators to benefit from any long-term growth of their idea.


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Deni: Why did you decide to organise a hackathon?

Nick: Partly for exposure to our brand, but mainly to bring about the kind of innovative thinking that can bring back the idea of the region being a centre for engineering excellence in the IT sector.

Likewise, much of Tyneside has reinvented itself as an international centre of art, culture and also scientific research. We see no reason that the IT Sector should not also be on this crusade – the bringing together of likeminded, vibrant and innovative people can only bring the spirit of creativity home.

Nick: Why did you decide to support the event?

Deni: We’re always looking for different ways to engage with businesses. We don’t want our students to walk away with just a good education. Obviously this is important, but what’s just as valuable is the opportunity to interact with employers, to go on relevant work experience, to attend networking events, to work collaboratively with industry on projects and to develop the work ready skills that will make them the stand out candidate.

Plus I have a brilliantly talented teaching team that I wanted to put to the test!

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Deni: What do you think are the biggest skills challenges facing your sector/business?

Nick: I feel that there is a very definite need for bespoke IT skills in the region – but the most important skill that we need to encourage is the idea of learning agility that can enable people to learn new things and not to rely or be afraid to move towards newer technologies or different ways of working.

We also need to ensure that new entrants into the market are trained how to adeptly network amongst each other, (as this can get people thinking together too) and that visiting students that hail from further away originally, can discover that the North East is a great place to both settle and work and enjoy all that this region has to offer that other metropolitan hubs can not and that these items are not mutually exclusive.

Nick: How is your college helping to tackle the skills gap?

Deni: I’m not sure if it’s a skills gap or a recruitment problem. I think what we need is for businesses to think differently about how they find new talent – which is why I love the idea of this hackathon. We’re also engaging with employers to design relevant and meaningful work experience placements that support their business and give our students new skills. We’re finding this to be a great way to bridge the gap between education and employment and many businesses are going onto employ these young people, shaping them into the kind of team members they want.

Sign up

If you would like to attend the Rocket Hack, you can apply as an individual and we will assign you to a team based on your skills set, or, apply as a pre-formed team!

Follow @TheRocketHack on Twitter & Instagram


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About Gateshead College

We’re the top performing college in the country and the only Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rated college in Tyne and Wear.

At Gateshead College we give our students the employment edge.

That means work-ready students with the unique combination of high quality education and real world skills. We develop our courses hand in hand with local companies, so our students will have the experience and work ethic to do their employer proud.

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