A new initiative will fast-track 450 people from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds into careers in digital technology every year.
Skills City comprises leading digital technology bootcamp academies, working in collaboration with employers at all levels to create a clear pathway to jobs and diverse talent recruitment.
Based at HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology at MediaCityUK in Salford, it aims to provide fairer access to digital and technology career starts, creating the most diverse technology talent pool and thus being a magnet for technology businesses to move into the North West region.
Women remain largely underrepresented in the tech sector – 17 per cent in the UK – and in a bid to readdress gender inequality, Skills City has committed that 50 per cent of learners will be represented by women.
People from a BAME background, those who are financially disadvantaged, or on career breaks like return–to–work mums, are also encouraged to explore the opportunities available at Skills City as alternative routes to finding employment in the tech sector.
The Skills City Learner Charter commits to securing skilled job offers for all its cohorts.
HOST by IN4.0 will deliver training across six technology areas: cyber, data analytics, immersive technologies, cloud engineering, software engineering and creative digital media.
This unique offering will include outreach programmes into BAME and disadvantaged communities across Greater Manchester and the North West, where individuals who would not otherwise have fair access to opportunities will be supported to embark on a career in technology.
Another programme due to launch shortly from Skills City is Kickstart Digital. In collaboration with Salford City Council, it will provide digital skills development to young people employed on the government’s six-month Kickstart apprenticeship scheme.
Mo Isap, CEO of HOST, said: “Establishing Skills City has been a very personal mission, a first of its kind Skills City in Greater Manchester, and our ambition is to establish a Skills City hub within all of the region’s technology clusters as a catalyst to eradicating inequality and digital exclusion.
“Diversity and inclusion is in our DNA at HOST and we see Skills City as a bridge between education and responsible employers. We understand that offering training courses is not enough, especially now when unemployment is at an all-time high, and while many career routes have been shut down, digital skills continue to be in demand.
“We will be launching recruitment in April and building a community of tech talent from the most diverse and underrepresented backgrounds to support them through their journey into employment.
“By working in collaboration with the government, local authorities and employment partners, our mission is to support people from across Greater Manchester, the North and the UK with overcoming the barriers into new careers in tech.”
Salford’s City Mayor, Paul Dennett, said: “Salford is committed to becoming a digitally inclusive city where no-one, young or old is left behind. No-one should be excluded from opportunities in the latest industries or everyday life just because they cannot get online or do not feel confident using the latest technology.
“Skill City is a key part of our Digital Everyone ambition to ensure local residents have access to cutting edge training and development to realise their full potential and create a better, fairer Salford.”
Tom Stannard, Chief Executive of Salford City Council, said the pandemic had accelerated digital adoption and emphasised that digital skills are now as essential as maths or English.
“Salford is now second only to London as a digital and technology hub for businesses and, as a result, has the fastest growing economy in Greater Manchester.
“Local businesses have shown they can adapt to rapidly changing and challenging circumstances and use digital technology – from virtual reality to online transactions to open up new markets and cut costs. By investing now in cutting edge skills we will develop the workforce needed to grow these industries and not just drive our recovery but transform our future economy,” said Tom.
Stephen Wild, Managing Director of MediaCityUK, said: “Our MediaCityUK community includes some of the fastest-growing and most dynamic enterprises in the country, meaning the ability to attract and recruit trained technology talent, at speed, is crucial in this fast-moving sector.
“The Skills City graduates will ultimately provide all MediaCityUK businesses with the opportunity to reach their digital and tech recruitment goals as well as provide local, diverse talent with fantastic employment opportunities.”