The Government have just announced their Digital Skills Strategy, in a bid to ensure that everyone has the digital skills they need to fully participate in the economy and society.
Digital Lancashire are currently leading and participating in, a wide range of the activities mentioned in the UK Digital Strategy document to promote this goal, including education in schools, with the Digital Advantage program.
The Digital Advantage program, the ‘Pop Up Agency’ has shown progressive improvement on the skills and learning methods that can be achieved for young people in Lancashire. The report emphasises the importance of reform of the technical education system and the creation of specialist digital routes, such as digital apprenticeship programmes and digital degree apprenticeships.
One of the overarching aims of Digital Advantage scheme was to stimulate the counties need for Digital Apprenticeships, and the Pop Up Agency program is doing just that.
This year alone, the program will see 170 pupils graduate the scheme, armed with industry relevant skills, and an appetite for professional knowledge in the digital sector.
With all the change and reform to education, and the effort to close the digital skills gap coming from the top, it is now time for businesses to play their part, by thinking about their business growth strategies differently, and consider more varied recruitment options, such as offering digital apprenticeships.
There are many benefits of running an apprenticeship scheme to fulfil business roles, such as:
There are currently 13 approved digital apprenticeship standards, with more in development. With initiatives like The Pop Up Agency running in the county, now is the optimal time to consider apprenticeships, with a fresh generation of pupils not only interested, but equipped with the practical and everyday skills needed to succeed in digital roles.
This is what some of the pupils have said about the Pop Up Agency:
“The course provided a similar working environment which gave me an insight into what it’s like to work in the creative industries.” Dariusz Slebocki – 11/03/1998
“I have improved upon my development skills and now have a greater understanding of the process behind preparing to launch a product to market.” Arran Clarke – 19/05/1998
“It was a good team working experience which offered a lot of project pre-production and practical skills development.” Jo Docherty – 28/01/1998
The UK currently holds the position as a leader in global digital economy, however to maintain that title, everybody needs to invest in providing a range of specialist digital skills to fill specific digital jobs. It is estimated that 1.2 million new technical and digitally skilled people are needed by 2022 to satisfy future skills needs.
The UK has a supply of specialist skills that scores well above the EU average, however computer science graduates have the highest unemployment rate of any degree course at 10% after 6 months graduating.
The Government’s Strategy also reveals some stark statistics about correlation between where people live, their socio-economic circumstances and whether they have basic digital capability.
The report states that in August 2016, 22% of adults in Blackburn had not used the internet in the last three months, compared with 7% of adults in Surrey. With information such as this, it is more important than ever that the young people in areas such as Blackburn and other parts of Lancashire, gain the knowledge and access through educational services in the region.
In the previous academic year, the Tech Partnership published statistics, that in the North West, in total there were 79,000 apprenticeship starts, of these 2,000 were digital. In this growing and expanding industry sector, there needs to be more. More businesses running them, and more pupils undertaking them, the latter will not be the challenge.
It is for this reasons that Digital Lancashire are at the vanguard of improving the options available to young people, and businesses in Lancashire by providing information and support on this fast moving landscape that is education and the digital skills gap.
For more information on how to get involved with Digital Apprentice Schemes there are a number of online guides and information such as:
The Tech Partnership
The White Room
UCLAN Event: A panel to answer your questions on how degree apprenticeships can add value to your organisation.
National Apprenticeship Service
Lancashire Apprenticeship Providers