At the start of October, a new digital strategy for the North East was launched. Digital for Growth brings together partners from across the region to maximise opportunities for growth and investment. North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Skills Director, Michelle Rainbow, talks about digital skills and how our workforce will form a vital component of this new digital strategy.
The North East is a region with a vibrant digital ecosystem that is packed with the potential to deliver economic growth and more, new jobs as it continues to flourish.
That’s not just jobs which might be typically defined as digital – for example, gaming design or software development – but roles across all areas of industry, as more and more organisations embrace digitalisation and the increased productivity it brings
To make sure we’re in the best possible position to reap the benefits of digitalisation for our region, we need to focus on the digital skills needs that we know exist in the North East. We must make sure that people in our area – both our existing workforce and the workforce of the future – have the digital skills that employers are looking for, and the skills that will allow everyone to fully take part in an increasingly digitalised society.
We want to completely dispel any myths and stereotypes that exist when people think about digital skills, or careers in the digital sector, and we want to empower people of all ages and backgrounds to upskill and take advantage of new technologies and digital job opportunities.
Part of our work around this will be to link employers closely with schools, colleges and education providers to ensure that young people, from primary-school age onwards, understand the range of possibilities open to them in our region, whether that’s a career in a digitally focussed organisation or a role in any sector which will require sound digital skills.
The Digital for Growth strategy focuses on the many digital hubs and networks we have in the region, plus our colleges, universities and training providers. Strong relationships between education and industry are already having a positive impact and we want to see more of this happening throughout the region, across businesses of all sizes and types.
We also believe it’s especially important that employers continue to look to the future, champion digital skills development and invest in training for their workforce. Lifelong learning, training opportunities, mid-career retraining and non-linear career paths are other examples of areas where employers can take positive action to upskill existing workers and help to secure a pipeline of appropriately-skilled people for years to come.
The North East LEP aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs in the North East by 2024, and many of these jobs will be within the digital sector, or they will require strong digital skills.
Working together to address our digital skills needs is vital if we are to make sure that people in our region can enjoy a better quality of life, if our businesses are to continue to grow and take on new staff, and if our young people are to build fulfilling and successful careers.