More than £1m of government money is to be made available for charitable and social good initiatives that enable tech skills of underrepresented groups and disabled people.
People from under-represented social groups with the potential to become tech exemplars are set to be given new digital skills, as part of a UK government drive to improve digital economy diversity and address local skills challenges. A £1m ‘Digital Skills Innovation Fund’ from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is open for bids from Local Enterprise Partnerships 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 socio-economic areas, to progress in digital roles such as data analysts, software programmers and developers, and cyber security specialists. A £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 web search engines.
The fund, which opens in September 2018, also sets out to leverage the power of tech to get more people online, and to support the Digital Strategy which sets out Government’s ambition to create a inclusive digital economy. These initiatives will run alongside Government’s work to boost digital skills provision across the country, the DCMS said. This includes £170,000 Government funding to support the Tech Talent Charter which is a commitment to ensure greater diversity in the tech workforce of the UK and implement recruitment and retention policies that will support women in digital and technology roles.
The Digital Skills Partnership has seen Government, businesses, charities, not-for-profit and voluntary organisations joining forces to deliver over 2.5m free training opportunities in areas such as basic online skills, cyber-security and software coding. In addition, the Government has established two Local Digital Skills Partnership pilots in Lancashire and the Heart of the South West which brings together businesses, third sector organisations, the education sector and public sector organisations to tackle local digital skills challenges to build thriving and inclusive local economies.