A multi-million-pound ‘Digital Academy’ at Northampton College in England, is set to give students the chance to showcase their skills in one of the region’s first dedicated esports arenas.

With competitive gaming one the UK’s fastest growing industries, and potentially lucrative deals awaiting for elite players, digital savvy students can make the most of the state-of-the-art facility to get themselves ahead of the game.

Partly funded by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund, the £6.3 million Digital Academy at Booth Lane also includes a TV studio, digital workshops, a Mac suite and a digital design studio plus a whole range of specialist facilities and equipment.

Speaking at the official opening, principal of Northampton College, Pat Brennan-Barrett, said: 

Our Digital Academy is far more than classrooms and computer screens – it is a place where the future will be created before our very eyes.

We live in a world where the rapid development of technology allows us to be smarter, more connected and more ambitious than ever before, and our new Digital Academy is fully equipped to train the next generation of digital experts.

Our courses and apprenticeships allow individuals to explore digital careers and progress through a pathway of qualifications leading to higher education, apprenticeships and employment. By working closely with industry professionals to develop each of our programmes, these courses will lead to real-life job opportunities for our students.

Flagship programmes to be run in the multi-million-pound Digital Academy include Esports and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, alongside the college’s already-popular Games Design courses.

The fully equipped Esports arena will allow students to take part in competitive gaming against other colleges across the country.

Jake Zelkowicz, assistant principal for the school of Arts, Digital and Creative Industries at Northampton College, said: 

Gaming is no longer a hobby – it’s a genuine career choice with potentially significant rewards, and Northampton College students will be at the forefront of this growing industry.

They have access to a state-of-the-art learning environment which perfectly prepares them for 21st century working life, sparking their imaginations to produce a new generation of digital pioneers that will shape our futures.

The Digital Academy was officially opened by chair of SEMLEP, Peter Horrocks CBE, who said: 

We know from talking to businesses that there is a real lack of digital skills out there so when the college came to us with their proposal we moved quickly to make the funding available and start building and equipping this incredible facility.

It really is very impressive and students have all the facilities they need to make their mark in a sector that is now worth more than the Hollywood film industry and offers a wide range of potential careers.