Visualsoft joins forces with local college to bridge skills gap

A Stockton eCommerce agency says a growing skills gap is slowing its plans to create jobs in the town.

Visualsoft says it is “crying out” for staff that can help realise its dream of doubling the workforce – and despite the North-east’s growing digital hub, skilled workers are in short supply.

The company joined forces with Stockton Riverside College to help bridge the skills-gap, by piloting an introductory web development course that could see students go on to secure an apprenticeship with the firm.

Visualsoft’s Sarah McCormick said: “Despite the North-east having recently started to establish itself as a digital hub of the UK, we are seeing a significant gap in the amount of young people coming through with web development and front end development.”

“We are always crying out for PHP and CSS developers. While some are coming through in the North-east, there’s not as many as a company of our size needs.”

The company, which employs around 160, has set out ambitious plans to double its workforce in the next five years.

Michelle Elliott, the college’s director of business development, said: “Our aim, as an education provider, is to give people the skills and training that employers are looking for.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for young people aged 16 to 18, and could see them go on to pursue a career in this growing and exciting industry.”

The full time programme, which is due to start this month, would see students develop the sought-after technical know-how alongside customer relationship management skills.

Michelle explained how students would spend half a day a week with Visualsoft throughout the course and also undertake one full week’s work experience with the company.

At the end of the 20-week course the students are guaranteed an interview, with the potential to move on to a Level 2 apprenticeship with the firm, or they could progress on to an alternate apprenticeship or full time study programme.

Sarah added: “This is the first project of this kind, and this scale, that we have carried out with a local college.”

Visualsoft also has offices in Newcastle, London and Sydney and works with more than 1,000 clients, including worldwide brands such as Kickers and Gola.

The company has grown at an average rate of 300% per year since it was established in 1998.

Visualsoft hit the headlines recently after it successfully introduced limitless holidays and flexible working for all of its staff.

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