The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has invited combined authorities and local enterprise partnerships to bid for shares of £1 million fund to encourage diversity in digital jobs.
It has created the fund to help women, disabled people, people from minority backgrounds or those living in lower socioeconomic areas to get into digital roles such as data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketeers.
The bidding process will be open to combined authorities and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) until 28 October with grants of between £200,000 and £500,000 being available.
The move is intended to help people from underrepresented groups play a part in the digital economy, and to encourage collaborative working between (LEPs) local government, the voluntary sector, youth organisations, charities, employers and training providers to address local skills challenges.
DCMS has also set up a £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund to help older and disabled people acquire digital skills. It will support projects that include the teaching of basic skills such as booking GP appointments online, using apps to communicate with friends and family, and making the most of search engines.
The fund, which opens in September, will also support efforts to get people online.
Minister for Digital Margot James (pictured) said: “It is crucial everyone is able to take advantage of digital technology, whether it is to learn how to use the internet or develop the skills to work in a tech role.
“If we want to maintain our position as a world leading digital economy we need to work with industry, local authorities and the voluntary sector to develop solutions so no-one is left behind.”
Local Enterprise Partnership Network chair and Digital Skills Partnership board member, Christine Gaskell, said: “As the rate of technological change and innovation continues, ‘tech’ is becoming increasingly integrated within every sector and industry. We share the aspiration to ensure that more people have the skills and creativity that will enable them to contribute to, and benefit from, new economic opportunities and deliver more inclusive growth.
"There are huge opportunities for regions to benefit and local enterprise partnerships have a vital role to play in helping people and organisations develop the skills they need to realise their potential. Any initiative with the aim to make more people tech savvy and to bring more women and young people into the sector to create new start-ups and unearth the next digital superstars has to be welcomed.
DCMS said the new funding will complement existing initiatives to boost digital skills across the country. These include £170,000 in funding to support the Tech Talent Charter, a commitment to ensure greater diversity in the tech workforce of the UK.
The Government has also established two Local Digital Skills Partnership pilots in Lancashire and the Heart of the South West. These bring together businesses, charities, the education sector and public sector organisations to tackle local digital skills challenges to build thriving and inclusive local economies.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0