It’s been a uniquely testing week for UK education. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, the Prime Minister has announced that as of today (March 20) schools will be closed for the foreseeable future. Just as businesses are faced with unprecedented challenges and new ways of working, so too is our education system and talent pipeline.

It’s no secret that the Sunderland Software City team is immensely passionate about future-proofing skills in the North East digital-tech sector. We’re consistently working hard to narrow the digital talent gap; whether that’s through delivering initiatives to meet the needs of businesses, ensuring there’s new talent with the necessary skills to enter the workforce or inspiring young people about the potential of careers in technology and digital entrepreneurship.

In normal circumstances you can often find our team engaging with students in person. Generally you can find us in schools giving business talks or hosting sector-based workshops and careers fairs. Moreover, we regularly bring students into places of work via our industry insight visits and we also work with teachers too, in supporting their CPD through up to date sector insights. 

This week our skills team has (quite literally!) been working around the clock to create new approaches to digital skills delivery, as business and education alike shift to remote working. While we of course don’t have all the answers, we wanted to share some new approaches we’ve already got up and running to ensure students continue to have exposure to STEM careers and local industry opportunities. 

Projects that students can do at home:

Design a game character

Sponsored by our friends at Sunderland-based video games developer Coatsink, we’re running a 'design a games character' competition for students. The winner will have their design created by Coatsink’s professional design team and this will be shared out via our website and across our social media channels. The competition brief is now available to download on our website.

STEM focused treasure hunt  

We’re setting a treasure hunt style activity over a 4 week period, encouraging students to research all things STEM career related. Students will be required to find specific information each week and send it back to us. Each week, a new challenge will be released, dedicated to each of the STEM sectors. We’ll create a leaderboard and the winner will win a prize. To stay up to date about our upcoming treasure hunt activity, please fill in our dedicated updates notifications form.


Online resources:

Youtube videos

We are creating a bank of sector-based videos highlighting job roles, skills sets and qualification requirements, helping students to gain insights in potential future job roles.

Sector insights bank

We are creating a bank of sector-based information sheets, again highlighting job roles, skills and desired qualifications. This will include useful links and can be used by students, teachers and parents alike.

Social media

We’ll soon be introducing a series of ‘Did you know?’ live tweets, showcasing what local colleges and training have to offer in relation to education and work with industry. 

We’re here to help

We understand it’s been an incredibly challenging week for both the business world and education alike. We’re here to listen and we’re committed to working quickly to deliver new approaches to digital skills and careers. 

We hope you enjoy some of our immediate ideas. To stay up-to-date about any of the upcoming resources, please fill in our updates notifications form.

If you have any questions or find yourself in need of expertise in skills resources and business support, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We don’t have all of the answers right now but together, we’ll get there. 

For more information contact our Head of Skills, Jill McKinney, at or 07808776061.