Gateshead College: Tech skills can boost business growth

Chris Toon, deputy principal of Gateshead College, explains how digital skills are helping companies across all sectors to cash in on the tech boom…

Emerging technologies are providing lucrative opportunities for firms to grow their business and gain that all-important competitive edge. Exciting developments such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way businesses operate, creating new revenue streams and driving economic growth.

These opportunities are not just limited to the tech sector, either. Hotels and guest houses, for example, can show new customers 360-degree, VR-led walkthrough videos of their room before they set foot in the place. Retailers are using AR to transform the shopping experience by allowing customers to ‘try on’ clothes and accessories before they enter the shop or buy online. VR and AR can even be used to simulate an evacuation of a fire-hit oil rig or detect a leaking valve in a water network.

The potential of these technologies is vast – but this has presented tough challenges for some companies which currently lack the expertise to take advantage of them. That’s why Gateshead College is working closely with industry, to help firms investigate current and future skills gaps and how they could be bridged by a pipeline of new talent.

We’ve developed great partnerships with key players in the sector including PROTO: The Emerging Technology Centre, an R&D facility for emerging digital innovation. We’ve also forged links with tech entrepreneurs to explore commercial opportunities generated by VR, AR and other exciting developments. The idea is to equip firms in all sectors with the skills needed to apply these innovations to everyday business situations.

Working with companies at the cutting edge of modern tech keeps our curriculum and student experience relevant and inspiring. We run several courses across the technology spectrum, spanning subjects such as virtual reality, gaming, media, television and film production, and our approach is to adapt our curriculum to meet the evolving needs of industry as new digital developments emerge. This allows firms to be in a position to capitalise on these innovations when they do come on stream, and students to build skills that they need now and in the future.

Through our learning programmes, hundreds of students have completed work placements that have enabled them to get a job; others have gone on to launch successful businesses or showcase their talents in established companies.

Our unique approach has a dual benefit for students and companies. It gives students the best possible chance to acquire a broader set of digital skills that will help them in their career. And it allows forward-thinking businesses to shape the talent they need to drive their business forward in the future.

To find out more about Gateshead College and the courses on offer, visit

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