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University partner tombola invests in regional tech talent

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Published on 29 May 2018

l-r James Beard and Professor Alastair Irons
l-r James Beard and Professor Alastair Irons

 Online entertainment software developer tombola is launching a degree apprenticeship scheme in partnership with University of Sunderland. 

 Based in Sunderland, directly opposite our Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's, tombola will initially take on four school leavers per year to study for a Digital & Technology Solutions Professional Degree Apprenticeship, specialising in Software Engineering. 

 tombola will provide the students with a paid apprenticeship during their degree, giving practical experience and on the job training alongside their studies. On graduation, tombola has a clear intention to offer them full-time roles, with the potential to build a long-term career with the company.

 With a shortage of coding and software development skills widely acknowledged as a significant problem facing the digital economy, tombola believes investing in these skills is crucial to the future economic success of the region and the country.  But to ensure this investment has long-term benefits it is essential there is a direct connection between what people are being taught and what skills firms actually need. Degree apprenticeships help to bridge this gap. 

 James Beard, tombola Chief Operating Officer, said, “Using the Apprenticeship Levy funds to invest in Degree Apprenticeships is a no brainer and a great opportunity to put this to good use - both for the students and us. The students get an in-demand degree and a job at the end of it and we get high calibre, qualified, loyal, motivated employees who know our business. And if they don’t end up working for tombola, other companies in the digital economy also benefit - it is a win-win situation. 

“The Apprenticeship Levy is a great way of investing in the development of future tech talent. And it is not just a case of recouping our levy, indeed we will be spending more than our levy commitment each year. We are a firm believer in investing in our local and regional community, and there is nothing more important than the education of the next generation.”

 Professor Alastair Irons, Academic Dean for Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Sunderland said, “We are delighted to partner with tombola to help bridge the skills gap. We run a choice of programmes that incorporate the cutting-edge requirements needed to succeed in the digital and tech sector. Our Degree Apprenticeships provide opportunities to students of all ages and from all backgrounds and we are putting significant investment into enhancing our academics, curriculum and facilities to meet the needs of the business and industry sectors.”

 As a result of their long-term investment tombola aims to boost and retain technology skills and talent not only across the region but also to meet their own needs for smart software developers as the company continues to grow.  With tombola developing all their own software in-house, growing their own talent to join their existing 450 employees is essential to their continued success. 

 James Beard added: “We want to create a legacy of employment, skills and improved infrastructure and our degree apprenticeship scheme, alongside investments such as our new, high spec HQ, is another clear demonstration of our commitment to this.”

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