Digital Skills Plan

Why is this important?

Digital skills help people into work, increase wages boost local and national productivity and the economy.

Digital skills can be categorised at three levels:

  • Basic – the skills needed to live in a digital world
  • General – the skills needed to work in a digital world
  • Advanced – the skills needed to become a tech professional

There is a growing demand for digital skills. in the last twenty years, circa 4 million digital jobs have been created paying an average of £10,000 per annum more than the job it replaces, contributing to greater productivity and a net £140 billion boost to the national economy. All regions have benefitted from employment growth in higher skilled occupations.

The digital economy is growing fast, nationally growing a third faster than the rest of the economy. A growing digital economy creates new jobs not only in the IT sector, but in many other sectors such as in financial services, manufacturing, health and social care.

Where are we now?

Bradford District has strengths and assets which place it in a competitive position in the Northern economy. We have a large young, entrepreneurial and digitally savvy population which is home to innovative creative and digital businesses.

However, there is still a significant digital skills gap, leaving significant vacancies particularly in “Tech” jobs. More young people need to be equipped with the digital skills required for today and the future. There is an opportunity to do this by equipping them through education with the digital skills needed to be ‘work-ready’. Careers education for people of all ages is also key to this through quality careers that helps people understand the training pathways to enter, retrain and upskill.

Many businesses have needed to pivot through the pandemic to engage with their customers, however, over 40% of the workforce continue to lack ‘Essential Digital Skills for the Workplace’. SMEs need to be supported to navigate the skills system to access opportunities to develop those skills in their workforce, and the case made to business leaders and entrepreneurs about the benefits of digital transformation on growth and productivity. The growth of digital skills is essential in supporting the development of a thriving and successful economy.

The digital skills offer across West Yorkshire is vast and difficult to navigate. Whilst the amount of provision is encouraging, the burden of choice poses a dilemma to those in need of skills support: “What do I need to learn, and where do I go to get this?”. This is the biggest barrier to many and at all levels of digital skills. There is a need to coordinate the existing offer, and to simplify learning-pathways and the support available, especially for those most in need to access skills provision. There is also a lack of investment for adult skills, including digital skills.

Regional and national skills provision is a cluttered and confusing landscape for those requiring access to learning. Provision is often disjointed and not delivering the local needs required to support the region.

There is a real need to invest and engage organisations rooted in local communities to ensure that skills provisions reach and engages those most in need of support. Employers and learners need the opportunity to co-design learning.

There is an opportunity to make more use of ‘bootcamp’ style learning, digital badges and MOOCs (massive online open courses).

Digital skills need to be embedded in all types of learning, and at all ages including through the national curriculum.

What is our ambition?

To create a fully inclusive society and a thriving economy by the growth of digital skills ensuring Bradford District has a high value, high skills economy delivering high value jobs, increased productivity and opportunities for all.

What are we going to do?

There are a number of key initiatives already in place to address these challenges and realise our ambition:

  1. Digital Skills Partnership - set up with agreed priorities to deliver digital skills growth across the West Yorkshire region in response to the ‘Digital Skills for All’ ambition of the Leeds City Region Digital These priorities form the foundation of a Digital Skills Plan.
  2. The Digital Skills Plan draws together ambitions around regional transformation through
    • Social Digital Inclusion
    • Workforce of the Future
    • SME and Charity Digital Growth
    • Simplify Provision
  3. The Plan is to be developed in partnership with business, education, the third sector and local government organisations across the region
  4. SkillsHouse Partnership - We will promote and support SkillsHouse partnership as the district's careers and employability service where employment, and skills development needs of individuals of all ages are met.
    CTE Partnership Boards - Bradford has a well- developed Careers and Technical Education (CTE) Partnership which provides a mature framework and governance in driving forward the skills agenda for our children and young persons to support their career pathways.
  5. There is a fantastic array of work and programmes that have been developed by and through partnership working arrangements successfully supporting outcomes for our children and young people. Each career pathway is governed by a CTE Partnership Board that includes representatives of the industry that the pathway is designed to serve. Critically,  employers, particularly SMEs, help shape the local skills curriculum and provide other benefits— employers and public relations, internships, job shadowing, mentoring, recruitment, professional development for teachers, equipment donations, and adjudication at student competitions, to name a few.
  6. We now we have an excellent starting point with over 78 employers sitting on one of the nine CTE Sector Boards, close to 2,000 employers offering work experience placements, and over 14,000 Learners receiving careers information and interacting with business each In addition, local employers and Bradford Chamber of Commerce run the successful ‘Manufacturing Weeks’ and ‘Tech Week’. Digital skills cuts across many of these pathways.
  7. We will further implement the CTE partnership Career Pathways approach to strengthen the collaboration between employers and educators in direct response to industry’s current and future talent demands.
  8. Digital Makers – a programme to bring schools together with industry, policy makers, universities, cultural organisations, and the NHS to learn how to transform digital education for young people. Digital Makers is overseen by an Executive Steering Group – chaired by the CEO of City of Bradford Metropolitan District. Its aim is to use science to build the next generation of the digital talent pipeline, bridge the skills gap blocking employment and give young people the ability to protect themselves in an increasingly hostile digital world.
  9. Through the Digital Makers programme we will develop a suitable programme to support digital skills within both primary and secondary schools to complement the national curriculum. This could include engagement with wider aspects of the digital strategy and focus on AI and Machine Learning, Design for UX, Cloud Computing, Digital Art.
  10. We will establish a task force similar to Digital Makers for Post-16, assess gaps and develop programme through the CTE Partnerships on improving the scale of provision and building on the SkillsHouse partnership initiative
  11. Cyber Bradford – There are a number of initiatives being implemented to engage with young people on the career pathway of cyber security. Also CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) in partnership with DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport) is creating learning programmes for residents who may have IT job experience to gain knowledge, skills and certifications to enable them to work in Cyber Security Analysts and related roles – 6 month programmes with Saturday workshops. The ultimate end goal is to create future Cyber Security Ambassadors for the City.

5 years on

What does ‘good’ look like?

We will have:

  • Addressed and closed the attainment gap for disadvantaged learners, so that each of our communities are able to access and progress in learning, and experience the economic benefits.
  • Greater accessibility and connectivity to the Bradford population to support engagement in the increasingly digital society.
  • A productive, resilient and innovative economy that offers a higher standard of living and is based on a highly skilled, diverse and flexible workforce.
  • Stronger relationships between employers and training providers with good quality skills and training opportunities that reflect the unique needs of our labour market.
  • An inspired student population, increased apprenticeship uptake for ICT, growth of graduate skills retention in the region and provision of more work-ready students to support the West Yorkshire economy.
  • Simplified access to a widely used and valued digital skills provision creating a more inclusive society and high quality careers information and support service, and for people to understand how to access their entitlements in relation to careers guidance and training.