/ News / Over 600 residents from underrepresented groups in Greater Manchester and Lancashire set to benefit from digital workforce funding

  • 14 projects to receive funding as part of the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund supporting businesses to address skills gaps & residents to enter well paid creative, digital & tech roles
  • The Fast Track Fund is a £3milion joint venture between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership

14 projects from across Greater Manchester and Lancashire have been announced as the successful applicants of the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund.

The Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund, which was developed to address locally identified digital skills gaps, is a joint venture between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership (LDSP).

The £3million fund, which is the first of its kind in the UK, was set up to support both Greater Manchester and Lancashire residents with accessible routes into digital employment, specifically targeting disadvantaged groups and those under-represented to help them get into digital roles.

The 14 successful projects are additional to the six programmes which received funding in round one to support over 200 Greater Manchester residents. Tech Returners were one of these projects, securing round one funding for their‘Your Journey into Tech’ programme to support people wanting to return or enter the technology industry after a career break.

This latest round of funding will enable the successful consortia to deliver a range of digital skills training programmes, creating inclusive opportunities for groups of people that don’t currently have access to these digital opportunities and currently under-represented in digital roles including BAME communities, under-employed individuals, women and ex-armed forces.

Successful applicants from round two of the initiative include Burnley College’s programme to help experienced manual workers transition into digital programming roles within the manufacturing sector. Manchester’s Tech Equity aims to upskill unemployed women from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and provide a pathway for them to move into junior network engineer roles.

Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “We are investing heavily to boost people’s digital skills that are more important than ever in these times. We want everyone to be able to seize the opportunities our world-class digital sectors bring. It is fantastic to see this new funding targeting innovative schemes that will make a real difference to people’s lives in Greater Manchester and Lancashire.”

Greater Manchester and Lancashire have a high demand for specialist digital roles due to their growing digital industry. The Fast Track Fund was designed to help support the local economy by building on the key digital skills requirements identified by local employers.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “In the current climate this fund is more important than ever, this pandemic has highlighted the real importance of digital skills and technology and digital will be a vital element in how we ‘build back better’.

“In Greater Manchester our ambition is to be recognised as a world-leading digital city region. This fund helps bridge the digital skills gaps across our city-region and build a diverse talent pool in Greater Manchester, to ensure local businesses have access to the highly skilled workers they need.

“We have been overwhelmed with the fantastic applications received, which are testament to the range of organisations who are actively working to diversify talent and offer opportunities to under-represented groups in the sector, ensuring digital skills are never a barrier to social mobility.”

Steve Fogg, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership said: “I am delighted Lancashire residents will be able to benefit from further funding for digital skills through the Fast Track Fund.  The work of the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership has already provided invaluable support to people looking to improve their digital skills.

“Lancashire has a vibrant and growing digital sector, boosting productivity and high value jobs, with a thirst for new talent and we need to ensure everyone is able to benefit from emerging opportunities.  However digital skills will also have an important role to play across all of our key sectors including our cutting-edge manufacturers, of which there are many in Lancashire.  This is evident in the current covid-19 situation in which businesses have quickly adapted and diversified to manufacture ventilators and PPE.

“We are delighted to see so many applications from business and provider collaborations that aim to accelerate the diversity of the digital workforce in Lancashire through innovative approaches to quickly building the digital skills that are in demand from local employers.”

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