The Institute of Coding (IoC), a consortium of universities, employers and outreach organisations, with a mission to develop the next generation of digital talent at degree level and above, has today announced the formal allocation of £2.4million of grant funding to tackle the digital skills shortfall across a wide range of areas.

The £4.8million includes £2.4m of grant funding provided by the Office for Students (OFS) and a further £2.4m of match funding from the consortium of partners that have formed the winning bids.  Allocated across six winning groups and in each case led by an academic institution, each tasked with launching bespoke courses. Funds were allocated by the IoC’s industry advisory board, consisting of 18 senior executives from leading businesses as part of a formal tender process.

Winning partners will join the existing consortium of universities, businesses, outreach organisations and professional bodies, led by the University of Bath, to further widen the joint effort of tackling the digital skills gap. Summary of funding allocations (Full details included at the bottom of this press release)

  • The consortium led by The University of Leeds has secured £500,000 to launch a new programme called The IoC guide to kick starting your career with 21C skills. The courses are designed to engage, motivate and focus on digital employability skills for people in the 18 to 25 age group.
  • Durham University and its group of over 16 industry partners has been awarded £517,846 to launch a new programme called TechUp: Tech retraining for underrepresented women in the Midlands and North of England. The course takes women from the Midlands and North of England, particularly from underrepresented communities, with degrees in any subject area, retrains them in technology and then gives them the opportunity to interview with a company for an internship/apprenticeship/job. 
  • A group led by  the University of Chester has been allocated £155,166 for a new course named Coding for Non-Computer Science Graduates. The course will offer an innovative conversion in Data Science/machine learning/AI and entrepreneurial skills that can be undertaken by any graduate with some experience with data.
  • Creative Computing Institute, University of the Arts London (UAL) is leading a collaboration to launch a new programme entitled Creative solutions to digital transformation using £581,000 of funding. The course will promote the role of creative digital technologies transforming opportunities for media, manufacturing and engineering businesses.
  • Birkbeck University and partners have been given £222,420 in funding for a course in Computing for the Cultural Heritage sector. The new programme will enable professionals across the cultural heritage sector of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) to improve their digital skills.
  • £420,000 of funding will be allocated to Coventry University and its collaboration of industry partners for the development of an online pilot site, designed to provide signposting for learners for Institute of Coding initiatives, courses and opportunities in England.

Combined these new courses estimate to train tens of thousands of learners who will be able to start on the courses during the next 12 – 18 months.

Sheila Flavell, Chair, IoC Industry Advisory Board comments:

“These courses will give thousands of people access to high quality learning opportunities and practical support at a time when employers need it most. Our extensive programmes, built in partnership with industry leaders, will widen access to the technology industry, spreading opportunity to people from a range of diverse backgrounds and strengthen our digital economy at a crucial time.”

Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students comments:

“This funding is a key part of our work to address skills gaps and improve graduate employability, particularly for students from groups who are under-represented or disadvantaged. Digital skills are vital for the economy, now and in the future, which is why we are backing this important initiative to boost equality and diversity in STEM education, develop the workforce that employers will need to meet future digital challenges, and open up the jobs of the future to graduates from all backgrounds.”

About the Institute of Coding(IoC): A consortium of universities and employers, with a mission to develop the next generation of digital talent at degree level and above. The IoC will develop higher-level digital skills capabilities among those already in work as well as improve graduate employability.

Its goals include developing specialist skills training in areas of strategic importance, boosting equality and diversity in technology-related education and careers and producing research, analysis and intelligence to anticipate future skills gaps.

Full details of project funding allocations

Lead organisation

University of Leeds

Funds given

£500,000

Project title

The IoC guide to kick starting your career with 21C skills

 

Making the transition from education into the modern world of work requires essential digital knowledge, soft skills and professional behaviours. Employers have clearly identified skills gaps when recruiting young people and this project provides a portfolio of 15 short online courses to fill those gaps. Designed to engage, motivate and focus on employability, these courses will meet the bite size, visual and stimulating learning favoured by those in the 18 to 25 age group.

The courses could also prove attractive to busy mid-career professionals needing to keep abreast of a world being transformed by digital technologies. Whether working for an organisation or as a freelancer or home worker, these courses provide a flexible route to learning new skills.

Designed by an experienced team of online educators and delivered on the collaborative FutureLearn learning platform, these courses are accessible, engaging and importantly, relevant. Working with a team of sector specialists, the courses focus on meeting the needs of the IoC widening participation target groups, young women and young people from a BAME background. A final optional assessment course provides the stimulation to complete a series of courses to reward understanding through a 21C Skills Award.

 

Lead organisation

Durham University

Funds given

£517,846

Project title

TechUp: Tech retraining for underrepresented women in the Midlands and North of England

 

TechUp takes women from the Midlands and North of England, particularly from underrepresented communities, with degrees in any subject area, retrains them in technology and then gives them the opportunity to interview with a company for an internship/apprenticeship/job. 

The retraining programme co-created by academic, industrial and outreach partners includes modules at bachelors and masters level and includes both technology modules: data science, cyber security, machine learning, agile project management, and workplace readiness skills: public speaking, clear communication, working as a team.

The 6 month programme involves 4 residential weekends hosted by the 4 partner universities. The residential weekends bring together participants, with all partner organisations to create and sustain strong relationships. Between residential weekends the programme continues online. 

At the end of the programme successful participants receive a certificate and an interview with a partner company at a partner special event. 

 

Lead organisation

University of Chester

Fund given

£155,166

Project title

Coding for Non-Computer Science Graduates

 

This project will work closely with the local employer base to address an identified skills shortage of digitally-skilled, industry-ready graduates in Shropshire and beyond.

Drawing on best practice from the Northeastern University in the US, (with whom project partners New College of the Humanities have a strategic partnership) the project will create an innovative conversion MSc in Data Science /machine learning/AI and entrepreneurial skills that can be undertaken by any graduate with some experience with data. The course content will be designed by industry experts already engaged with the project, working in partnership with University College Shrewsbury (UCS) academics (including staff from two Centres of Excellence). A key feature will be work-based project placements with one of the local supporting businesses.

Course content will be taught in an innovative, flexible way, ensuring accessibility for hard to reach groups, particularly returning to work mothers and remote, home-based workers (rural isolation being a concern). The course provision will take into account childcare and travel needs, with online delivery and workshops/lectures scheduled for evenings/weekends. 

 

Lead organisation

Creative Computing Institute (UAL)

Funds given

£581,000

Project title

Creative solutions to digital transformation

 

The manufacturing, engineering and creative industries recognise the urgent need for new creative digital solutions to develop products and services, enhance productivity and differentiate their businesses. Access to diverse creative technology experts and supporting existing staff to develop understanding and skills in these areas are vital.

We will respond to these needs by creating a portfolio of online courses addressing a set of important questions for both employers and employees:

  • How are specific creative digital technologies transforming opportunities for media, manufacturing and engineering businesses?
  • What does a creative technologist do? How are they transforming modern businesses? What skills do they have that businesses need?
  • How can they develop their creative technology skills? How can they upskill or change career direction? How can they ensure they are learning skills that aren’t at risk of automation?

UAL’s new Creative Computing Institute will work with Lancaster University, Goldsmiths University and FutureLearn to deliver courses that will offer pathways for learners looking to increase their understanding and skills in creative digital technology. We will design the learning focus and content in collaboration with Made Smarter, Nesta and Semta to ensure we are reaching real identified needs of industry.

 

Lead organisation

Birkbeck University 

Funds given

£222,420

Project title

Computing for Cultural Heritage

 

The project establishes a one year, part-time course in Computing for Cultural Heritage as a use case, and a framework that is transferrable to other data-driven sectors. Professionals across the cultural heritage sector of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM), are facing a broadening digital skills gap as rapid technological transformations impact nearly every role in the sector. Staff who have come to their role many years prior, find themselves with increased responsibility for the design and delivery of complex digital projects, without the necessary foundation in computing to support them. The project will directly address the specific training needs of those who need it most: current and future mature, female, and minority employees of GLAM. Birkbeck University (BBK) will work closely with the British Library (BL) to design and develop a course to support these target groups.

 

On completion of the project, cultural heritage professionals across the UK will have access to a qualification, which equips them with knowledge of appropriate technologies and strategies to confidently undertake computational and data-intensive digital projects in the cultural heritage sector.  That qualification will be developed to be transferable across sectors through an industry-led in-house project module delivered by the employer.

 

Lead organisation

Coventry University

Funds given

£420K

 

The project will develop a specification and online pilot site that provides career and education pathway information about digital skills and will signpost learners to IoC activities in England.  This will enable an assessment of the tool’s usage and, if it proved successful, would form the basis of a larger site.

 

In summary, the Board is seeking an innovative and accessible tool that learners will be keen to use, is easy to find, simple to understand and signposts learners to IoC provision.

 

A critical requirement would be to identify and implement a sustainable business model and to ensure that the solution developed is scalable beyond the IoC in the longer term.

 

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