CaptureA NORTH East education boss has said that the region needs to up its game to ensure it is able to meet the skills needs of the creative industries, which a new report shows is growing at twice the speed of the UK economy.

Ellen Thinnesen, who was appointed as principal and chief executive of Sunderland College last month, said that the region’s colleges, sixth forms and universities have to do more to ensure they are developing courses that are able to meet the needs of the growing number of creative businesses across the UK.

Mrs Thinnesen’s comments come less than a week after the Government released new figures revealing that the UK’s creative industries are now worth £84.1billlion per year to the economy.  Sunderland College is one of four colleges in the UK and the only provider in the region to teach the newly created NextGen Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills.

It has been designed by high-profile companies including Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft Reflections, Double Negative, MPC, Blue Zoo and Framestore, and provides students with the skills and experience they need to launch a career in the entertainment industries.

Mrs Thinnesen, who joined Sunderland College from Tameside and Clarendon College, said: “Creative industries are absolutely critical to the success of UK Plc, and the rate of growth enjoyed by businesses in this field brings to life the increasingly important role it will play in the future too.  It is a sector that we believe will go from strength to strength and one that the education sector has to support.

“Creative industries cover a vast array of sectors and companies, and it’s vital that further and higher education gears up to respond to its skills needs.  From games development to film and media, the growth potential of the sector is huge and we have to ensure that we support and sustain all parts of the sector with a strong skills pipeline.”

Sunderland College has invested more than £22million in a state of the art facility, at its Bede Campus, which includes an Arts Academy building, designed specifically for visual and performing arts.  It is also forming partnerships with software focused organisations like Sunderland Software City, which is allowing it to better support the needs of digital creative businesses, such as games, web and app developers.

Mrs Thinnesen added: “As a college, we are focused on the future – the future generation, the future skills needs of the region and the future technologies and industries that will need our support to realise their potential.  And as such, we are investing today in the infrastructure – soft and hard – that we will require in order to prepare for tomorrow.”

The UK’s Creative Industries grew by 8.9 per cent in 2014 – almost double the UK economy as a whole – and the North East is at the heart of the sector’s development, with a 2014 report showing that the North East is among the fastest growing knowledge economies in the UK.

British films, music, video games, crafts and publishing are taking a lead role in driving the UK’s economic recovery, according to the latest Government statistics.  It is a sector that is generating £9.6million per hour, and it is expected that this is a figure that will continue to rise.  The North East is already home to a growing cluster of technology businesses, extending to IT , software and computer services.

To read the full report, visit  And to find out more about Sunderland College, visit or follow @sunderlandcol on Twitter.