Digital Economy Boosted as Students Prepare for Work

Posted on the 14 June 2018

Digital Economy Boosted as Students Prepare for Work

A unique project designed to drive innovation and growth in the region’s digital and IT sectors and give students a real insight into the world of work is about to come to fruition.

Newcastle-based creative agency Guerilla Communications was appointed in January to work with second-year students from Northumbria University, under the umbrella of Creative Fuse North East, to develop new business opportunities and at the same time creating unique opportunities for students to experience the sector first hand as part of their studies.

Together, Guerilla and the Northumbria University students have worked on two separate pieces of work centered around designing and building new websites for established businesses.  The projects have given the students the chance to research, plan, develop and implement their work as they would, working in a commercial environment.  Guerilla’s role was to oversee the projects and provide support and mentoring to the students.

Artisan restaurant, located within The Biscuit Factory art gallery in Newcastle's Ouseburn

and Empty Space, community theatre group based in Newcastle upon Tyne were the chosen businesses.  Both have been heavily involved in the projects to create their new websites and are looking forward to officially launching their new sites in the next couple of weeks.

Creative Fuse is the partnership between the North East’s five universities – Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside, academics work alongside industry, cultural organisations, charities and the public sector, to explore how creative, digital and IT firms can have a sustainable future in the region adding value to the region’s broader employment base.

The idea for this Creative Fuse project idea came on the back of research done in 2017 which looked at how students could engage better with the digital industry as a CV and cover letter is no longer enough to get students on the career ladder once they have graduated.  The idea of placing a team in industry rather than just individuals on placement had proved popular and had already generated encouraging results.

Jamie Steane, Associate Professor and Associate Head of the School of Design at Northumbria University, said: “Our research shows that 13% of students have never done any work experience before and almost 40% don’t do any work at all.  The only ¼ do work on a regular weekly basis, and 60% have never done any design work experience before. We are always looking at ways in which our students can gain the best industry experience and how the industry can benefit from what our students can give in return.

“Working in the industry on a regular basis over a period has been proving very successful so, we wanted to build on that success with this particular project.”

James Allen, Managing Director, Guerilla Communications, said: “It has been a real pleasure to work with the students from Northumbria University in our role as mentor and facilitator of these four projects.  The work they have produced is outstanding and we hope this experience will help them shape the direction of their future careers.

“We want to encourage the young talent coming through our Universities to stay here in the North East once they graduate so giving them a taste for our industry is key to that goal.”

Guerilla Communications will be offering one of the students involved in the Creative Fuse project a year-long internship so that they can further broaden their industry experience.