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Posted on August 27, 2018 by staff

New £1m fund to boost diversity in tech

A new £1 million government fund has been unveiled to help people from underrepresented groups gain new digital and tech skills.

The Digital Skills Innovation Fund is now open for bids from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and combined authorities for initiatives which specifically aim to help people take up digital roles.

The funding will be used to help women, disabled people, people from minority backgrounds or those living in lower socioeconomic areas to succeed in digital roles such as data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketeers.

A new £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund has also been launched to help older and disabled people acquire digital skills like booking GP appointments online and using apps to communicate with friends and family.

“It is crucial everyone is able to take advantage of digital technology, whether it is to learn how to use the internet or develop the skills to work in a tech role,” said minister for digital Margot James.

“If we want to maintain our position as a world-leading digital economy we need to work with industry, local authorities and the voluntary sector to develop solutions so no-one is left behind.”

Research reveals 17 per cent of women make up the tech workforce and are underrepresented in the uptake of digital qualifications.

Unemployed adults are five per cent more likely to lack the basic digital skills than the national average.

Christine Gaskell, Local Enterprise Partnership Network chair and Digital Skills Partnership board member, added: “As the rate of technological change and innovation continues, ‘tech’ is becoming increasingly integrated within every sector and industry.

“We share the aspiration to ensure that more people have the skills and creativity that will enable them to contribute to, and benefit from, new economic opportunities and deliver more inclusive growth.”

Gaskell added that LEPs have a “vital role” to play in helping people and organisations develop the skills they need to realise their potential.

“Any initiative with the aim to make more people tech savvy and to bring more women and young people into the sector to create new start-ups and unearth the next digital superstars has to be welcomed,” she said.

The fund opens in September.