Microsoft and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority have announced a three-year agreement to plug the digital skills gap in the region. 

The Get On Greater Manchester Memorandum of Understanding aims to boost the local economy, create new opportunities in the digital tech sector and improve diversity in the region. 

“Being a digital city-region with a difference and ensuring an inclusive approach that puts people at the heart of their plans are the key tenets of the GMCA’s Digital Blueprint,” said Derrick McCourt, general manager, customer success at Microsoft UK.

“The commitment from both GMCA and Microsoft echoes this sentiment, with an ambition to empower Greater Manchester to achieve more, supporting 30,000 people to enter and build careers in the industry over the three-year period.

“One in five vacancies in the region are linked to skills shortages. Together with GMCA, we are passionate about doing digital differently to close the skills gap. We will do this by creating accessible pathways for learners to get into the tech industry, with diversity at the heart of our plan.”

Microsoft will work closely with the GMCA to identify areas where it can provide support and expertise, including the development of new digital training programmes, help for SMEs and startups, and the creation of new digital solutions to address local challenges.

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, GMCA lead for education, skills, work, apprenticeships and digital said: “Greater Manchester is the fastest growing tech hub in Europe, but we need to address the digital skills gap if we really want it to accelerate.

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“I’m excited to be working with Microsoft to give thousands of people the skills they need to secure well-paid jobs in the digital economy. Whether through a cybersecurity bootcamp, cloud computing apprenticeship or even just fixing up their CV, this kind of support from business is critical to ensuring people can succeed in the thriving digital and tech sector.”  

McCourt said that universities across the region share the goals of Get On Greater Manchester. “The University of Salford and University Academy 92 (UA92) are trailblazing in this area, encouraging all their students to take professional certifications such as the opportunities offered in Degree+ Digital and Microsoft’s Student Certifications,” he said.

“We have a campus onsite at UA92, and are mentoring students, offer work experience programmes and donate devices to groups typically excluded from Higher Education.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham added: “Greater Manchester’s digital sector is thriving, with record levels of investment in 2022.

“Collaboration between the public sector, industry and academia is at the heart of our vision for Greater Manchester to become an integrated technical skill city region and is just one example of how we are doing digital differently to deliver the priorities of our Digital Blueprint.”

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