Gaming firm Tombola teams up with Sunderland College to recruit wannabe game designers

Gaming giant Tombola has launched an academy in Sunderland to train the next generation of game developers

Anne Isherwood of Sunderland College with Phil Cronin and Ian Walshaw from Tombola
Anne Isherwood of Sunderland College with Phil Cronin and Ian Walshaw from Tombola

An online bingo firm has announced a partnership with Sunderland College to train the next generation of hi-tech talent.

Founded 50 years ago, Sunderland-based Tombola has become one of the most recognisable bingo operators in the UK, creating and developing all of its online games.

The firm, which was last month confirmed as the largest operator in Spain and Italy two years after expanding into Europe, has now invested £1m at its headquarters, part of which has been used to create the Tombola Academy.

The firm, which employs 200 people at the Wearside head office, is now recruiting both apprentices and graduates who will learn game development and design from the firm’s experts.

Phil Cronin, chief executive of Tombola Ltd, said: “Tombola is the market leader in Europe and we believe much of our success is down to our unique IP, which is all designed and developed in the North East.

“Finding the next generation of imaginative developers and inventive thinkers is a priority and a challenge for the company. We want to attract and develop the best talent from the region to work with tombola to originate new games and develop our overall online proposition.”

Ian Walshaw, head of IT for tombola, added: “The culture at tombola is perfect for technology specialists and enthusiasts alike. All of our developers and designers enjoy a lot of autonomy and access to leading-edge technology. In addition to this we’ve recently invested £1m in our head office to create the perfect working environment.

“Tombola is all about people and we want to develop University and College leavers who are smart and enthusiastic about what we do. We already work with the region’s Universities to recruit graduates but we’re opening our doors to apprentices for the first time to give us the next generation of game and web developers.

“We have partnered with Sunderland College to ensure the chosen applicants can align a first class college education with our hands-on training.

“The 12-month apprenticeship at the tombola Academy is aimed at those who are really passionate about software development – particularly games and web applications.

“The tombola Academy will provide an alternative to university; training will take place at our head office, it will be online-orientated and very interactive. Apprentice game developers will learn about all phases of game creation from the early design to the release using languages such as JavaScript and frameworks such as Unity3d.

“With some initiative and determination, apprentices will over time be able to move into senior development roles within the team and one day hopefully into a project leading role.

“We want to nurture the talent leaving our universities and college’s and provide them with the foundation for a career in the software industry here.”

Anne Isherwood, Principal of Sunderland College said: “We’re delighted to be partnering such an important Sunderland company in this new, exciting venture.

“Software development and the digital industries are areas of specialism in the region and it’s important that companies like tombola know that there is a steady stream of well-trained students with the right skills and attitude ready to fill their vacancies.

“As a college, it’s important that local companies know we have the flexibility to create bespoke solutions to their training and employment needs.”

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