University reveals plans for £17m digital skills hub

A new £17m apprenticeship hub is to be built in the West Midlands as demand for strong digital skills continues to grow in the region.

Staffordshire University plans to start work on the project at its Stoke-on-Trent campus after securing support from organisations and companies including Microsoft.

More people in the West Midlands have learnt basic digital skills over the past three years than anywhere else in Britain, according to research from Ipsos Mori.

There are 13% more people who can use search engines, send emails and buy from online stores in the region than in 2015, beating a 5% rise in the South East and a 3% decline in London.

However, the West Midlands is still considered to have a below average number of people with basic digital skills.

Staffordshire University’s hub aims to address this issue.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Barnes said there was a clear and pressing need to develop high level digital skills for young people in the area.

The hub plans to deliver more than 6,500 new apprenticeships over the next decade to equip people with the digital skills modern employers are looking for.

Government Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said: “We are thrilled about this ambitious project, and the work Staffordshire University, local businesses, councils and employers are doing to provide real opportunities for more and better higher level apprenticeships.

“The Digital Apprenticeship and Skills Hub will make sure businesses and individuals have the technical skills they need to get on – and that everyone is able to pursue the jobs or careers that are right for them.”

Employers across the UK will also be able to access the hub, set to open in 2020, to get support and advice on apprenticeships.