STUDENTS and businesses are being encouraged to take a leap into the ever- changing digital world after a £100,000 investment at a leading college.

Hartlepool College of Further Education has pumped the six-figure fee into a new Mac suite, which will give students the chance to develop their skills; and ultimately create a smoother transition into the workplace.

At the same time as developing the students, College chiefs are also encouraging the business community to get on board with a view to recruiting apprentices as part of a nationwide drive to increase the number of workers in the digital sector.

Keith Bradley, Head of Art & Design School at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “There is a big push from the Government for digital placements.

“It is an increasingly important tool for businesses to be able to market digitally, and we are trying to spread the word to the local business community that we have the facilities in place to provide apprentices across the board.

“A few years ago a lot of the areas covered on these courses wouldn’t have been thought of, but it is important to move with the times and ensure we can provide students who are able to fit straight into the workplace.

“The courses we run are set up with the business community in mind, and we are making sure the students know how the businesses operate.

“We look at things like website design, mobile phone apps and spreadsheets, just a really broad base for an apprentice to move forward into the world of marketing.

“The beauty of this course is that it can be specifically tailored for the business, so the apprentice is going to be able to provide them with exactly what they want. If it was a course which was set in stone, then it may not be suitable for some businesses.

“Some courses can be described as off the peg, where the apprentice will be able to fit into any working environment, but this one isn’t like that.”

The College has invested in the Mac suite so students can use the same equipment that they will use in the majority of workplaces.

There are courses available at all levels, designed for people with very little digital experience up to extended diploma opportunities which cover more advanced areas.

Keith added: “As well as making businesses aware of what we can offer, we’re also looking to let students know that there are some exciting opportunities in all aspects of design, multimedia and IT.

“The students who have enrolled on these courses so far have enjoyed the way they have been set up, and there has been some excellent feedback from businesses who have been in touch with us.”

Hartlepool College of Further Education is one of the largest providers of apprenticeships in the North East, and its success rates have placed it as the second best provider of its kind in the country.

It has more than 500 students aged between 16-18 who are working with employers across all sectors throughout the region.

Any businesses looking for more information about taking on digital apprentices, or students wishing to enrol on the course, can contact Hartlepool College of Further Education on 01429 295 000 or visit