From education to employment

GMColleges Delivers Digital Project with Cisco and Manchester Digital

After securing over £8.4m of funding from the Government’s Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) to help address the skills gap across Greater Manchester, GMColleges’ nine General Further Education Colleges are delivering a digital programme which brings industry and education together to help tackle challenges, create opportunities and ensure the sector’s continued success across the region.  

The Greater Manchester Digital Strategy highlights 8,000 digital and digital-intense creative businesses in the region which employ over 82,000 people. While this industry is going from strength to strength, the Greater Manchester LSIP found that 63% of Manchester’s businesses are experiencing skills shortages2.  

The project is supporting more learners to develop digital skills to progress in the digital sector, develop short courses for upskilling and reskilling in AI, Cybersecurity, VR and robotics, and promote careers in the tech industry with a focus on the most deprived neighbourhoods while also developing staff skills to utilise new technologies in teaching. 

Capital investment has been used to fund 50 Cisco Bundles, 6 new Cisco learning facilities, 6 new Cisco Networking Academies, 100 laptops, over 90 Raspberry Pies, 4 robotics and Microsoft Office Specialist training software licenses for up to 125 learners. 

One pivotal partnership is with Manchester Digital, a well-established, non-profit, tech association which aims to foster innovation and collaboration. Manchester Digital is key in bringing together regional businesses with our colleges, from SMEs to global organisations with a Greater Manchester presence. 

The team at Manchester Digital have organised key events for college staff and learners and Greater Manchester businesses to help deliver a more collaborative approach for all stakeholders with the region’s digital industry, looking at a range of topics including Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Security, Virtual and Augmented Reality and digital innovation and insights. 

Emma Grant, Head of Talent and Skills at Manchester Digital explained,

“Employer input allows us to understand the skills gaps and current trends within the sector, while offering their expertise and advice as guest speakers across a variety of events.  

“They also help the Greater Manchester college teams to bring the digital curriculum to life, and raise awareness of the exciting careers and pathways available across the digital sector.” 

The project is also being supported by Cisco, a US based tech company best known for its high quality networking products and software. Cisco is playing a key role in supporting our nine Greater Manchester Colleges to implement digital innovation through its range of learning tools and resources and via its Networking Academy. 

Mark Harris, Vice Dean and Vice Principal of UCEN Manchester commented,

“It has been amazing to see the collaboration from across the colleges and partners to bring this project to life. Collectively, we are all focused on serving our communities by delivering a strong higher technical offer that will help develop the talent pipeline required to meet the increasing demand for digital skills across Greater Manchester.”

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