New Training Provider Leading the Tech Revolution in Cornwall

27 January 2020 | News | Guest Author

I Am Digital offering exciting new courses in digital and information technologies - with ten £1,000 bursaries available to Cornish students

I Am Digital has launched a new scheme designed to provide a digital and information technology education to students, while giving them the opportunity to work with some of the most groundbreaking companies in Cornwall’s growing tech community.

“This is an exciting partnership between Cornwall College and Software Cornwall which is designed to help young people enter the Tech sector in a completely unique way” commented Dr Nathan Jeffery, Head of Digital Academy. “Nationally, the UK industry is growing 2.6 times faster than the rest of the economy and the top three challenges for employers are access to talent, funding and the poor transport links. This is where I Am Digital has stepped forward with an exciting solution.”

Different to most post-16 options, the two-year course not only qualifies students with a Level 3 Extended Diploma qualification in Digital Technologies, but also incorporates embedded work experience with industry professionals in Software Cornwall.

The course is perfect for students who know that their future career lies in computing or software engineering, but aren’t sure quite what they might eventually specialise in in this large and growing sector.

The course, which is an A-level equivalent, is taught at Camborne and St Austell, and provides an avenue into the ever-growing range of digital careers. Including learning CSS, Javascript, HTML, C and Java, together with a solid foundation in a wide range of knowledge and technical skills, the course is designed to lead into careers in anything from social media, e-commerce, gaming, building computers and local area networks.

“We’re proud to be able to offer high quality courses with direct input from industry professionals who are world-leaders in their sector” commented Dr Jeffery. “We recognise that while we’re living in an increasingly digital world, there is a national shortage of digital skills - which is why this high quality course is designed to think outside the A-level box, provide extensive industry support, and leaves students work ready, with high-level skills and real world experience.”

The course is designed to be a direct route into work, making it attractive for young people who want to start earning as soon as possible. Paul Massey, Founder and Director of Bluefruit Software, an embedded software engineering company who are part of Software Cornwall, said “Most people don’t realise this is even an option for students in Cornwall, and it’s amazingly rewarding to be part of breaking the mould and offering an alternative that’s genuinely exciting for everyone”.

Dr Jeffery continued “It’s extremely important for us to be able to support this type of learning environment within Cornwall; so many of our young people automatically look for training and career options outside of the county, particularly in this sector, without realising what’s on their doorstep. Unfortunately the ‘brain drain’ is a very real issue here in the South West.”

The new course leads to progression on the Foundation degree. Tom and James (pictured below) are now undertaking this as part of their employment with Bluefruit Software, allowing them access to complete the qualification without the debt, while simultaneously gaining real world programming experience with Bluefruit Software.

Bianca, another Cornwall College student currently studying the Foundation degree whilst working with Bluefruit Software, added “I first learned of Bluefruit Software at “Women in Tech 2018’, an event hosted at Cornwall College. Staff at both Bluefruit Software and at Cornwall College have been extremely supportive and accommodating to ensure that I achieve.  A lot of what I learn at college, I use at the job, and vice-versa.’

IT career options in the Cornwall and the South West are looking bright. Innovative research from Nesta shows that of the different employment sectors surveyed, IT skills exhibited the highest growth, and attracted the highest value and the highest salaries. With a 2.4 billion turnover in digital technology in the South West alone, the sector’s presence in the region is a significant area of economic investment and growth; the Tech Nation report released in May highlighted that digital tech industries in Truro and Redruth generated £93.4 million for the local economy in GVA (Gross Value Added).

Cornwall has a growing reputation as a digital hub. Funding from the ERDF has meant drastically improved infrastructure, meaning that the sector has been able to expand exponentially; according to Invest In Cornwall, between 2010 and 2018 the Cornish tech sector grew by 76% and doubled the amount of people employed in the industry.

“Wages in the tech sector are higher than the regional average, with the added benefits of good lifestyle and overall work-life balance. Professional digital prospects within Cornwall are therefore already excellent and getting better all the time!” commented Dr Jeffery. “This course is designed to educate, provide invaluable work experience and financial support to ensure our talented students stay in Cornwall to utilise their skills and ambitions within the tech industry.”

The £1,000 bursary will be awarded to ten students who meet particular criteria and pass a chosen suite of additional learning activities.

Toby Parkins from Software Cornwall added, “From an industry perspective, we’re not just looking for the right qualification; being work-ready is aided hugely by actual work experience and exposure to industry networks processes. We’re delighted to have been recognised for the way in which we’ve been boosting the opportunities for local talent with clubs and projects for students to try their hands at, alongside our teacher training ‘Tecademy’ project.”

Students who successfully complete the course are guaranteed a place on the FdSc Computing, Networking & Software Development degree at the Camborne campus, and can continue to work with Software Cornwall businesses on a Software Developer Higher Apprenticeship Level 4. The course also offers UCAS points at Level 3, so that students can progress to further study at university.

Software Cornwall is a not-for-profit community that connects, promotes, represents and supports Cornwall’s digital technology community. Counting world-class companies such as Headforwards, Hertzian and Bluefruit Software among its members, the group is committed to nurturing local talent and supporting skills for business, including student membership, events, and a job directory.


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