The West of England Combined Authority is funding courses to encourage more women into digital training and careers, with £238,000 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The authority’s Women into Digital Jobs, Education and Training (Widjet) programme will provide a range of events from taster sessions to industry-specified courses. These will start shortly and run until summer 2019 in the authority’s area of Bristol, Bath and North-east Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
The courses will be run by further education provider Bath College, training businesses Mayden Academy and Boomsatsuma, arts charity Knowle West Media Centre and the Dot Project, which organises Tech for Good Bath.
“Digital and tech is an important part of the West of England’s economy, and businesses have a particular need for skilled employees now, and this demand is expected to grow in future,” said West of England mayor Tim Bowles. “Women are currently under-represented in digital roles and this new project will seek to tackle this by engaging with a wide group of women in communities, with the aim of moving us towards more representative and inclusive employment in digital roles across the region. This could include roles in virtual reality, VFX design or software development.”
Widjet is one of several projects to be funded by DCMS’s £1.2 million Digital Skills Innovation Fund, announced in August 2018. The department has already announced £100,000 to expand a pilot scheme in Yorkshire to teach prisoners coding skills.
It is also funding three other projects run by local enterprise partnerships (LEPs). Lancashire LEP will provide more accessible digital skills training for those underrepresented in the workforce. D2N2 LEP, which serves Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, is focusing on women and people with autism with workshops, work experience and jobs. A final project will be run by Heart of the South West LEP, which covers Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.
DCMS also announced support for three new Local Digital Skills Partnerships (DSP), covering the Cheshire and Warrington, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly and South East LEPs, after expressions of interest from 14 areas. These join existing partnerships covering Lancashire, Heart of the South West and the West Midlands Combined Authority.
“We made a compelling case for a South East DSP and we are delighted it has been recognised by the government,” said Christian Brodie, chair of the South East LEP, which covers Kent, Essex, East Sussex, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. “In order to improve our economic productivity, we urgently need to improve digital skills in our communities, by training, upskilling and reaching out to educators.”
More information on the South East LEP can be found here: https://www.southeastlep.com/drive-to-push-forward-digital-skills-for-the-south-east/
Image of Bath College from Lee Bristol @Flickr under a Creative Commons licence