West Midlands Combined Authority has launched a new blueprint that is aiming to help people get into work, filling some of the vacancies that are being created due to a shortage of digital skills.
According to the WMCA, approximately 22% of the population of the West Midlands is offline completely, with this making up the largest figure in the United Kingdom. Around half of the West Midlands population also lack the digital skills that are necessary for employment, which is despite 84% of firms in the region claiming that data skills are essential to their company.
Aiming to support people in the region gain the skills that would be needed to take advantage of the gap in the job market, the WMCA has launched the Digital Skills Blueprint alongside the Good Things Foundation. This blueprint will provide a targeted curriculum to businesses, colleges, and other skills providers as they look to give residents the skills and confidence that they require to get through accredited training.
Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Andy Street, said:
“Digital skills and connectivity will be essential to the future health, productivity, and prosperity of our region - and a key element in the development of a range of industries right across our region.
“We’ve been steadily improving our digital skills offer over the last few years since skills devolution got underway in earnest - increasing the scope and volume of training and skills bootcamps. The next step in our offer is this Digital Skills Blueprint - helping skills providers to practically reduce the digital divide that still sadly leaves some local people and communities behind.
“We will continue to harness the significant funds that the WMCA already commits to developing digital skills - using the Adult Education Budget and £4m secured for digital devices. Together, we will make a tangible difference in the lives of residents right across our region in the months and years ahead.”
Practical framework will be on offer to help colleges and training providers to support people with everyday digital tasks, which includes setting up passwords, using the internet, creating documents, and using online banking, whilst also acknowledging the fact that everybody’s approach to digital skills would need to be personalised and focusing on their individual needs.
Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council and Portfolio Holder for Productivity and Skills at the WMCA, added:
“I am pleased that we have worked collaboratively as a region and with the Good Things Foundation to address digital exclusion for West Midlands residents.
“It is an important basis for life/work skills and a powerful platform for progression to jobs and further learning. I look forward to finding out about how this resource has had an impact in improving digital accessibility in the region - making a real difference to everyday lives.”
Image credit: iStock