People from underrepresented groups with the potential to become tomorrow’s tech stars are set to be given new skills as part of a push to improve diversity in the digital economy.
A new £1 million ‘Digital Skills Innovation Fund’ is now open for bids from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and combined authorities for initiatives which specifically aim to help people take up digital roles.
The funding will be used to help women, disabled people, people from minority backgrounds or those living in lower socioeconomic areas to succeed in digital roles including: data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketeers.
Research reveals women make up 17 per cent of the tech workforce, and that they are underrepresented in the uptake of digital qualifications.
Unemployed adults are five per cent more likely to lack the basic digital skills compared with the national average.
A new £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund has also been launched to help older and disabled people acquire digital skills.
Innovative projects are expected to 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 harness the power of tech to get people online and support the government’s Digital Strategy.
Minister for digital, Margot James 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.”
Digital Skills Partnership board member and chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), 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.”
Christine added: “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.
“As such, we are working with government through the Digital Skills Partnership to bring together key partners at national and local level to close the digital skills gap that currently exist.”