A new Digital Skills Academy, set to be established in Coventry, has launched its new website offering online access to training for the digital sector.

Following a successful bid led by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College to secure funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Digital Skills Academy is being launched in response to growing momentum for the fast-paced digitisation of the UK and an acknowledgement across all sectors that digital skills increasingly sit at the heart of all careers.

The Academy will offer students a pathway to ‘in demand’ digital jobs in software development and cyber security so that businesses can access a pipeline of people with higher level skills and address gaps within their workforce. In addition, students will be able to access opportunities to improve the types of digital skills on which every business increasingly relies.

Courses and apprenticeships at a range of levels will be available online at first and later at the Academy’s base which is being set up the Coventry University Technology Park in the heart of the city’s technology zone, or on employers’ own premises if required.

The West Midlands is a key national centre for the tech and digital sector with nearly 14,000 tech and digital businesses, five per cent of the national total and more than any other combined authority area in the country.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, has described digitisation as ‘the golden thread’ that runs through all industries to provide 21st century jobs. He said, “Investment in digital skills will help us to future-proof our region’s workforce and continue to help establish the West Midlands as the UK’s leading tech hub.

“The WMCA’s funding for the Digital Skills Academy is a huge step in making sure we are providing citizens with every opportunity to thrive in tech roles, and we look forward to seeing how it makes a real and positive difference to the people and businesses of the West Midlands.”

The Digital Skills Academy will work in partnership with employers to make sure its training offer is highly relevant and that it is able to support them by providing skilled individuals to boost their workforce.

Its location at Coventry University’s Technology Park campus will bring the benefits of working in close collaboration with a modern and innovative university group that continues to grow and evolve. The university is a leading institution for education and student experience, international student mobility, entrepreneurship and world leading research.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, and skills lead on the Digital Skills Academy board, said, “We hope that the new website will provide inspirational opportunities for people to engage with this new provision remotely and we look forward to opening our doors to other students in the near future. It is vital that the West Midlands’ workforce is equipped to meet the challenges of the fast-paced development in digital technologies.

“The Academy will play a pivotal role in delivering skilled individuals to the digital sector in highly specialised areas such as software development and cyber security. Building on this, we acknowledge that everybody needs digital skills at some level to participate productively within the workplace so provision will enable individuals to enhance their career progression opportunities in whatever industry they work.

“We’re pleased to offer online courses immediately and will be officially launching the Academy at its premises on the Coventry University Technology Park once we reach the conclusion of current social distancing measures.”

The new academy has been designed to provide high quality industry-relevant teaching on a flexible basis at a range of levels creating a clear technical education pathway that takes account of individuals’ starting points. Employers will be involved in the delivery of masterclasses as part of the academy offer and students will be able to access live job opportunities as they arise.

Marion added, “We aim to ensure that the Digital Skills Academy provides opportunities for people in the West Midlands Combined Authority area who are keen to return to work or progress in their current careers with additional qualifications. We’re confident that this approach will provide a valuable boost to careers within the industry and promote high skilled and high wage employment.”

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