Gaming giant Tombola has recruited the first students into its top talent academy.
Sunderland-based Tombola – one of the most recognisable bingo operators in the UK – has invested £1m at its headquarters, part of which has been used to create the tombola Academy.
In a partnership with Sunderland College, the company aims to train up the next generation of rising stars in the world of game development.
Now the firm, which employs more than 200 people, has recruited the first 19 apprentices and graduates to become the next generation of hi-tech talent in the North East.
The academy will provide university and college leavers with an interactive and online-focused experience.
Phil Cronin, chief executive, said: “Tombola is one of the largest employers of game and web developers in the North East so it’s vital for us to make sure we attract and develop the best young talent. We launched the academy to nurture local talent and provide graduates and apprentices with the foundation for a career in the software industry at tombola.
“We’re eager to find technology specialists and enthusiasts alike to work with us to originate new games and develop our overall online proposition.”
Ian Walshaw, head of IT for the firm, added: “We’re thrilled that the first intake of students have passed through the doors and have started on a programme of training that will help them to build a long-term career with us.
“The academy is a strategic, long term approach to help resolve our future recruitment needs and we have high hopes of its success.
“Tombola is a people company and the culture is perfect for those who are enthusiastic about what we do. All of our developers and designers are empowered in their day to day activities and are able to work freely with access to leading-edge technology.
“Just recently we invested £1m refreshing our Sunderland head office to create a modern and enjoyable working environment.”
Twelve university graduates have joined the Academy after completing degrees including character cnimation, games programming and computer science from regional universities including Northumbria and Teesside.
Tombola had also welcomed seven apprentices to the Academy after partnering with Sunderland College. The 12-month apprenticeships are designed to provide work-based learning while the apprentices also work towards a NVQ qualification.