Lancashire wins share of digital skills funding from Government

Digital Skills Partnership launch

Lancashire is one of four regions in the UK to have secured £261,000 of investment from the Government’s £1m Digital Skills Innovation Fund (DSIF).

The funding, from the department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), is specifically aimed at helping people under-represented within the Lancashire workforce gain more digital skills and boost their employability.

The programme will be driven by a range of grass roots initiatives including digital skills ‘bootcamps’, special events, workshops and courses.

Advisers will also signpost people interested in developing more digital skills to training programmes already available in Lancashire.

Some of the new projects Lancashire is aiming to roll-out over the next 12 months include an IT Infrastructure training project which will help disadvantaged residents into digital jobs and a digital marketing course for the unemployed and under-represented social groups which will lead to accredited qualifications sought by local employers.

The DSIF grant is also a reflection of Lancashire’s commitment to delivering economic growth and creating jobs through the promotion and delivery of more digital skills and training.

Last April it was the first area in the UK to announce the formation of a Local Digital Skills Partnership, a pioneering government scheme which helps to identify gaps in digital skills provision and encourages partners from both the private and public sectors to work together to address them.

Developed by DCMS and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Skills and Employment Hub, the initiative was launched with the support of several major companies, including Google, TSB and Lloyds.

Since then the network of private and public sector Lancashire partners has grown to more than 60 organisations – including large employers, SMEs, education providers and employment support agencies – while Google is on track to meet its target of training 1,000 Lancashire small businesses via its Google Garage programme.

The county has also successfully established Digital Lancashire, a not-for-profit membership organisation dedicated to accelerating the digital economy through public events, collaborative projects and a network of high-profile ambassadors.

Kerry Harrison, Lancashire’s digital skills partnership coordinator, said: “This funding will give Lancashire’s rapidly growing digital skills programme a massive boost and it will help us embed more training and support into communities who may otherwise struggle to access such provision.

“This will be achieved through a range of tailored, innovative and targeted interventions which will be specific to the audiences we are trying to help.”

Minister for Digital, Margot James, said: “The Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnerships presented an innovative new training programme which will help under-represented groups into the digital workforce and they should be proud winners of the Digital Skills Innovation Fund.

“Having a workforce that is representative of society is not only the right thing to do, but also makes business sense. This funding will help the people of Lancashire achieve their potential as tomorrow’s data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists and software developers.”

Director of the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, added: “The DISF award is testament to the extensive work we have already undertaken in Lancashire to deliver inclusive growth through improving the county’s digital skills base.”

The LEP has also invested significantly in digital, technical and vocational skills provision through many of the county’s universities and colleges over the past few years.

This includes more than £50m in Local Growth Deal funding provided for new facilities at Edge Hill University, Myerscough College, Nelson & Colne College, UCLan, Accrington & Rossendale College and Lancaster University.