Businesses pledge to help young people develop their digital skills

Falklands contract for Notts software company
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ ESB Professional

Nottingham College’s Adams Brasserie recently played host to Nottingham’s first Digital Skills Summit. The event was attended by over 50 delegates from local digital businesses, including UNiDAYS, the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University, and Nottingham City Council.

Organised by Nottingham College, the event opened by James Whybrow, Vice-Principal of Partnerships, Apprenticeships & Enterprise at Nottingham College.

The aim of the summit was to bring together key business and education leaders to address the growing shortage of digital skills across the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s eight priority sectors, to improve Nottingham residents’ access to basic and higher level IT skills and to involve creative and digital businesses in making Nottingham a beacon for digital talent across the Midlands.

The summit launched the Nottingham Tech 1000 strategy, a joint venture between Nottingham City Council and industry and academic partners in the city. The strategy is a key part of action being taken to increase digital skills attainment in Nottingham.

It aims to deliver an additional 1000 digital opportunities by 2020; these will include providing local people with apprenticeships, work experience placements, graduate internships, and increasing the number of computing graduates choosing to stay in Nottingham after graduation.

The strategy also aims to increase digital skills attainment in Nottingham by 35% in high-growth digital sectors, contributing even more to Nottingham’s growing reputation as a thriving digitally-enabled economy and providing more jobs and prosperity for local people.

The event, which aimed to energise and engage local businesses to get behind the ambition of the Tech 1000 partners is a direct response to local and national calls for more digital skills investment and concerns from businesses in Nottingham that the lack of a suitably digitally-skilled workforce is having an impact on their productivity and competitiveness both locally and in the global market.

Councillor Leslie Ayoola, Executive Assistant for Business and Employment at Nottingham City Council said: “A shortage of digital skills in Nottingham and nationally, can have a major impact; for young people especially, starting their working life without basic IT skills and experience can significantly reduce their ability to find work and reach their full potential.

“This is a significant challenge to Nottingham City Council’s commitment to guaranteeing a job, training or further education place for every young person aged 18 to 24 in the city but we also know that businesses too are facing challenges, finding themselves unable to compete in a global market, grow effectively and attract the high-calibre graduates leaving Nottingham’s world-class universities.

“To meet this challenge and grow our own digital talent, we must continue to support citizens, providing them with access to jobs and training and by doing so help businesses in the city to recruit, grow and increase productivity.

“By building stronger links between businesses and educators in the city, Nottingham Tech 1000 will improve access to digital skills across the city and support parents and young people to make the most of future opportunities in a digitally-driven economy.”

James Whybrow, Vice-Principal of Partnerships, Apprenticeships and Enterprise at Nottingham College said: “Ensuring we give our students the opportunity to engage proactively with employers is part of our underlying vision as a college and this event is a step towards that vision.

“We want to make sure that we help students make the most of their life chances in everything that they do. We do this through our commitment to giving young people in Nottingham a strong educational base but by also working closely with employers we can help our students to get jobs and positively contribute to the economy of Nottingham.

“By understanding the needs of employers in the digital skills sector and other industries and by bridging the gaps between schools, post 16 education, universities and employers we can collectively meet the needs of our partners Nottingham City Council, the needs of the economy and provide businesses with the talent they need for the future.”

Andrew Bullock, co-founder and CTO of UNiDAYS commented: “We have ambitious growth plans for our Nottingham headquarters in the short and long-term so we’re always keen to support initiatives that aim to attract more digital talent to the City. It was an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and ideas to achieve this with Nottingham City Council and local colleges and Universities.

“UNiDAYS is dedicated to helping develop digital talent in Nottingham by providing internships, hosting networking events, sponsoring Hack24 and offering work experience to local students. It was amazing to see so many institutions and companies working together to develop the Tech 1000 scheme and we look forward to committing further resources and support to ensure its success.”