West of England Combined Authority announces second round of funding to address digital skills gaps - Business Leader News

West of England Combined Authority announces second round of funding to address digital skills gaps

Man with tablet

The West of England Combined Authority is releasing a second round of funding to help address digital skills gaps in the region and drive growth. This is welcome news in light of the UK Government’s recent launch of a £375m scheme to drive investment in high-growth, innovative and R&D-intensive firms.

Applications are being invited for projects which together will support over 1000 people, helping them gain much-needed digital skills required by employers. It’s part of the £2m West of England Digital Skills Investment Programme, launched by West of England Mayor Dan Norris earlier in the summer, as part of the Combined Authority’s Recovery Fund.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “We all know technology moves fast, and people across the West of England need the skills that will help them thrive in changing workplaces.

“Too many livelihoods have been hit hard by Covid-19, with huge numbers of employees needing to adapt to new types of work. That means being able to get training in digital skills is vital for many people, and this new funding will help ensure the needs of our businesses can be met as we recover together from the pandemic.”

According to UK gov statistics, across the UK 11.3m people (21%) lack the full basic digital skills, 4.3m (8%) have no basic digital skills and 5.4m working adults (10%) are without basic digital skills.

From February to March this year, there were 4,613 job postings for programmers and software development professionals in the West of England. Other IT professions also saw high levels of job postings, including information technology, web design and development professionals, IT specialist managers and IT business analysts, architects and system designers.

Training providers report that with the huge rise in online interviews and application processes, baseline digital skills are now essential to enter and progress in any type of employment, while SMEs also report an increased need for digital skills in a variety of areas from marketing and sales to systems, processing and data analysis.

The West of England Combined Authority is inviting a consortia of partners to come forward with applications that address known digital skills gaps at both the lower and medium-higher levels.

Partnerships can include a variety of organisations, including skills providers, employers and other stakeholders who can deliver short, innovative, bespoke training courses to fill vacancies and support career progression at a higher level and increase confidence and stimulate demand for digital skills at lower levels.

Potential applicants can register to find out more at a special event via Zoom on Thursday 19th August 2-3pm. The event will be available to view on the Combined Authority’s website until the closing date for applications on Monday 20 September.