The UK’s tech sector is growing more than two and a half times more rapidly that the rest of the economy and employment in the sector has risen by more than 13 per cent since 2014. These statistics from government-backed Tech Nation demonstrate why the West Midlands is rapidly becoming the centre of the digital skills revolution.
Labour market research suggests that companies working within the tech sector need highly skilled staff that can keep pace with developments in the tech and digital field. In response to issues highlighted by local employers, a group of colleges is collaborating on a joint venture to increase the number of digital apprenticeships so that businesses can grow their own talent and future-proof their business in this burgeoning sector.
Digital West Midlands is a collaboration between three partner colleges, Warwickshire College Group (WCG), Coventry College, and North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College.
Debbie Scotton, business development director for Digital West Midlands has been reaching out to employers to identify their specific skills needs.
She said: “Businesses have told us that they need talented individuals with skills in cybersecurity, software development and programming. Apprenticeships are ideal in these areas because it is important that new recruits are immersed in the tech world in order to keep up with its rapid pace.
“We can help apprentices to acquire and develop these skills by linking them up with the right training partners. Whether businesses want to upskill existing staff or recruit new talent, Digital West Midlands can help.
“We are eager to add to the apprenticeship offer in specialist areas, according to employers needs including at advanced, higher and degree level. Our mission is to increase the number of apprenticeships within the digital sector, enable employers to address skills gaps and help to promote growth and improve productivity.
“The industry relies on a broad range of job roles from network engineers and communications technicians to digital marketers and IT application specialists. Employers have also reported shortages at supervisory and management levels, so the training offer has been tailored to meet those needs too.”
The Apprenticeship Levy provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to address their skills training needs, and much of it remains unspent. With new apprenticeship programmes based on specific occupations developed in collaboration with industry, the training is current and highly relevant. Digital West Midlands can also help with recruitment where fresh talent is required to strengthen a growing team.
Debbie said: “We are dedicated to the future of digital skills development and that requires taking a long view. We are keen to help employers with succession planning as well as filling current gaps within their teams. We hope that this unique partnership will help the West Midlands to cement its reputation as an important centre for the digital economy.”
Businesses that are interested in hiring or training a digital or IT apprentice should get in touch via hello@digitalwestmidlands.