£4m programme to improve diversity in Greater Manchester’s digital skills sector

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A new £4m skills programme aimed at tackling workforce skills challenges and hard-to-fill vacancies in the digital industry is being rolled out across Greater Manchester.

Serco has recently launched its ‘Digital Careers Upskill Programme’ after being awarded a £4m contract by Greater Manchester Combined Authority as part of its three-year Skills for Growth programme, which aims to plug skills gaps identified by employers in the city-region and is funded through the European Social Fund.

Delivered across two strands, the programme will focus on reskilling people working across a range of sectors to get into new digital roles as well as upskilling those already working in the digital, creative and tech industry so they can progress further.

Following robust engagement with digital employers in the city-region, a number of barriers were identified including a lack of diverse perspectives, skills and life experiences.

And, with women accounting for 18 per cent of technical roles in the digital industry, the 22-month contract will target employed women across the city-region in order to improve diversity and identify progression routes within the industry.

The ageing population and low-paid workers are two further cohorts being prioritised by the Digital Careers Upskill Programme and wider Skills for Growth project.

Councillor Bev Craig, Greater Manchester’s new portfolio holder for Education Skills, Work, Apprenticeships and Digital said:

“We are home to the largest digital and creative cluster outside of London but to continue our growth and reach our ambitions of becoming a world-leading digital city-region, we need to invest in our residents and support our businesses.

“We know through talking to employers in the digital sector that there’s a gap in mid to senior level roles, which highlights a need to create more opportunities for entry level talent who can then progress.

“Further to this, supporting the creation of a more diverse workforce will lead to innovation and business growth through productive and relatable decision making.”

Serco will work in partnership with five other providers across Greater Manchester including; Readynez, Coders Guild, Apprentify, 3D 360 and Back to Work.

All partners have individual specialisms and will support learners to gain technical skills in a number of fields including cyber security, 3D printing, UX, web development, cloud engineering and more.

Rob Matts, Head of Skills at Serco said:

“We are committed to delivering a successful digital industry skills programme in Greater Manchester that contributes to productivity, innovation and economic growth across all sectors.

“In addition to this, we are proactively engaged in delivering social value outcomes through engagement with GM Social Value Network, joining the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, engaging with training providers and employment programmes like Kickstart and strengthening community links through volunteer work with local organisations.”

Skills for Growth is a three-year European Social Funded project focusing on plugging the skills gaps in priority sectors across Greater Manchester as outlined in the combined authority’s Local Industrial Strategy.

For more information, please visit www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk and search ‘Skills for Growth’.

For more information about the Digital Careers Upskill Programme, please visit www.serco-ese.com/digital-careers-upskill.

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