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NEoN teams up with HELM to help break down employment barriers

North East of North (NEoN), the annual digital arts festival which takes place across the city of Dundee, have joined forces with supportive learning charity, Helm to develop a programme of workshops for young people not in education or employment to learn digital skills. The programme launches with a four week course including workshops and talks to increase engagement with digital arts and computer games development.

Working with SQA, the national body in Scotland responsible for qualifications other than degrees, the workshops are offering an SQA Level 4 National Progression Award in Computer Games Development. The course is taught on Raspberry Pi computers, teaching young people code to design a computer game in order to encourage them to pursue careers in the technology sector.

With Dundee having a rich digital heritage, the pilot programme will inspire young to work in digital by providing opportunities to learn about digital art and its production. The mission behind the programme is to encourage young, unemployed adults to become creators and not just consumers of digital technologies. Built into the programme will be talks from industry professionals which will not just be about working with the sector but also their personal journey and enterprising approaches to career development.

The workshops take place in Vision, a former jute mill which has been converted into an office building which accommodates a number of creative and technology sector businesses, only a stone’s throw away from the former DMA Design office where the world famous Lemmings was created.  Topics explored by NEoN and Helm include character design, using sound and making alternative controllers.

Janey Muir, Education and Outreach Officer at NEoN said: “I hope that by offering these workshops, we can inspire young adults to pursue careers in digital. Dundee is renowned for it’s thriving design sector, which has a huge emphasis on technology and by making digital skills accessible, we’re breaking down barriers for participants. Joining forces with Helm has been brilliant – we hope to continue collaborating with them in future to help other people in the city and beyond.”

The four week programme, targeted to young people from the most deprived data zones, recruited participants via The Job Centre and will bring a greater understanding of a growing economic sector to areas that have high levels of unemployment. The aim is to encourage young people to explore options that they would otherwise not have.

NEoN believe that everyone has the right to fully participate in and contribute to community life. Without this, individuals may be deprived of political, social, economic and cultural rights. By working with Helm to provide professional qualifications, it is hoped that young people will be inspired to work in Dundee’s growing digital sector.