The GM Digital Strategy sets out an ambition to be a world leading digital city region with a difference. To do this we need to; develop the basic digital skills needed by all our residents to live fulfilling lives, the general digital skills needed for all job roles to be productive at work as well as the more specialist digital skills needed by our thriving tech sector.
The Digital Talent Pipeline workstream forms a key element of the GM Digital Strategy and was committed to in the Digital Skills programme agreed by the GMCA in 2017. The aim of the activity is to address digital skills shortages and grow a thriving and diverse talent pipeline for industry by creating coherent pathways from education and informal learning into digital/tech jobs. It will enhance and build upon existing activity particularly Bridge GM.
I was commissioned by GMCA to conduct research looking into the gap between what schools teach and what industry requires and to identify the blocking points from primary school through to FE and the world of work.
The initiative will build links between education, informal learning & industry delivering short, medium and long term solutions to the digital talent shortage:
- Opportunities for young people in GM to develop their digital skillset in engaging ways
- Discover the range of digital careers opportunities available in GM
- Teachers supported to deliver the digital curriculum with industry as key partners
- Key outcome: young people enabled to progress into work and/or further learning possessing the right digital, creative and broader business skills.
It aims to deliver a culture change that ensures over the longer term the digital industry invests in their future talent pipeline and education collaborates with industry as a key partner. All parties will work together to develop the digital skills needed for the future workforce.
Extensive local and national research was gathered on the digital talent shortage including reports from the GM LEP, GMCA, Manchester Digital and HM Govnt Industrial Strategy.
Research identified the key shortages in the local digital industry as software developers, web designers and data analysts with AI & Machine Learning growing in importance.
- A small group of schools in Greater Manchester were engaged to understand their drivers and challenges around the delivery of the computing curriculum, careers and work placements and the support they would like to access.
- A small group of digital/tech employers were engaged individually and as a group to understand what expertise they can offer to education & support requirements.
- A group of GM organisations currently involved in addressing the digital challenge were also consulted to find out what is working well and could be scaled. This group included Manchester Digital, HIVE Manchester, InnovateHer and Stepping into Business.
Triangulation of consultations with research
Following the initial round of consultation emerging findings were compared with local and national research to see where the GM picture converged and diverged.
Initial findings were then shared and discussed at meetings with the following groups:
- 60 secondary Computing teachers (KS4 and 5) at a national conference
- GM GFE Digital Routes Readiness
- Group of digital/tech companies facilitated by Manchester Digital
- Manchester Digital Skills Network
Moving to action – commissioning services
GMCA has committed £2 million to open the digital talent pipeline allowing local talent to flow.
The first two commissions have been launched as follows:
I am currently working with Manchester Digital on their bid for lots 1 and 2 and investigating how a Masters module could be wrapped around the evaluation of the project outcomes. This would take the form of a control group of fifty, Greater Manchester schools involved in the project compared against the remainder of the secondary estate.
How can the TPEA be involved?
Many from both the educational community and digital industries will be interested in:
- how the project engages young people with digital skills including girls and those from ethnic minorities
- how it supports young people on a digital career path
- how the project unblocks the digital talent pipeline delivering a workforce with a local skillset
- the wider outcomes of this programme
- how it demonstrates devolution in action.
I can provide:
- provide regular updates from the programme
- compare learning with other national research
- share learning with other national initiatives e.g. National Centre for Computing Education
- take part in peer review with other members.