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Government launches digital skills fund

The Government has launched a £1m Digital Skills Innovation Fund to help people from underrepresented groups gain the skills they need.

The fund 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.

And it 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.

Grants of between £200,000 and £500,000 will be available.

A new £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund has also been launched to help older and disabled people acquire digital skills.

Innovative projects are expected to include the teaching of basic skills such as booking GP appointments online, using apps to communicate with friends and family, and making the most of search engines.

‘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.’

The Local Enterprise Partnership Network chair and Digital Skills Partnership board member, Christine Gaskell, said there are ‘huge opportunities’ for regions to benefit and 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,’ added Ms Gaskell.

‘As such, we are working with Government through the Digital Skills Partnership to bring together key partners at national and local level to close the digital skills gap that currently exist.’

For more information, visit the Digital Skills Partnership website.

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