A call by the Department for Work and Pensions will look to commission projects that improve digital skills, with a focus on the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding area.
The £900m fund which comes from European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), have been allocated to assess the current skills profile of individual employed people before providing ‘up-skilling’ for existing workforces and supporting SMEs to adopt new technologies.
Projects qualifying for funding will support SMEs in identifying new tech which drives business performance and productivity, and providing access to new and emerging markets.
The York, North Yorkshire and East Riding (YNYER) has identified AgriTech, bio-renewables and engineering as key sectors for growth in the area, requiring new technology such as automation and robotics in order to continue to prosper.
“[A] shortage of digital skills such as coding, software, robotics and artificial intelligence is affecting the potential of SMEs to remain competitive and poses a potential barrier to new inward investment” the Department for Work and Pensions writes in the call for proposals.
It said the area was a rural economy where small and micro businesses account for over 97 per cent of all businesses.
The Lloyds UK Consumer Digital Index 2018, found that 13 per cent of the working population in Yorkshire and Humber are without full basic digital skills, higher than the national average of 10 per cent.
“These businesses are often based in isolated communities with a limited potential workforce and limited access to training opportunities,” it wrote.
The Government has confirmed that it will guarantee funding for qualifying projects, even in the event of a no-deal scenario.
The call opens today and will close on 25 November 2019.