This £3m fund is a powerful collaboration between GMCA, DCMS & the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership bringing together employers and training providers to run innovative digital training schemes linked to skills shortage vacancies.

Lancashire businesses and education providers are being urged to bid for government cash designed to bridge the gap in specialist digital skills in the county. The £3m Fast-Track Digital Workforce Fund is being shared with Greater Manchester – but out of the 21 bids submitted in the first round of applications, just five came from Lancashire.

A second bidding window has opened and the county’s employers and colleges are being invited to come up with ways of training people for hard-to-fill roles in the digital sector – or digital jobs which cut across different industries.The money must be used to spread specialist digital knowledge – such as software development, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence – and not basic digital skills.

Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, director of the Lancashire skills hub said;

“We know that people have ideas – and [this fund] is very much about people coming together and looking at creative ways of filling the digital skills gaps. It doesn’t have to be accredited – it could be a boot camp approach.”

Round 2 is now open for registrations of interest with the fund opening formally for applications at the end of November.

>> Register your interest by 21st November <<

Register your interest in the fund by completing the: Register of Interest Form. This will allow the Digital Skills Partnership to open up a dialogue with you for exploring ideas to tackle the digital skills gap and, with your permission, to match you with other like-minded businesses, training providers and/or other groups.

To have a look at what made a successful round 1 bid please read: Hints and Tips from Round 1 .

Cohorts of trainees could include people who are new to the digital sector or those who have a low-level digital role and want to increase their skills. People who have specialist qualifications but are currently underemployed would also be eligible.

Bids can range from £50,000 to £250,000 and are likely to require an element of match-funding – whether in cash or kind. Courses can run for a maximum of 12 weeks full-time or 20 weeks part-time.

Commented on the first round, Digital skills partnership co-ordinator, Kerry Harrison said;

“The best bids we have seen started with an employer who had jobs they couldn’t fill and then a provider talking to them about employability, confidence-building and technical skills – and putting it together in a package. Some people who [applied in the first round] haven’t written bids before – and have been innovative in the way they have approached it.”