From education to employment

Greater Manchester Combined Authority Joins Coalition To Combat UK Digital Skills Gap

  • GMCA joins 141 organisations in the FutureDotNow coalition to tackle UK digital skills gap
  • 17 million people in the UK are without the essential digital skills for work
  • GMCA has granted £1.5m to local authorities to address barriers to digital inclusion

GREATER Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has joined FutureDotNow, a new coalition of major organisations working together to close the UK’s workplace digital skills gap.

FutureDotNow is bringing together organisations from across the UK including Accenture, BT, M&S and Nationwide Building Society to tackle the growing digital skills gap by coordinating industry action to get working-age adults across the UK equipped with, at least, the essential digital skills[1] (EDS) for life and work.

The UK is currently in the midst of a digital skill crisis, research shows that 17 million people are without the EDS for work and only 23% have had any digital skills training from their employer[2].

The move to join the FutureDotNow coalition will build on the GMCA’s current work tackling the skills shortage which has seen it grant £1.5m to the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities to address local barriers to digital inclusion and provide residents with the digital kit needed to get online.

Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of GMCA, said:

“I am proud to announce that GMCA has joined the FutureDotNow coalition to tackle the growing digital skills gap across Greater Manchester and beyond. In Greater Manchester we believe that everyone whatever their age, location, or situation, should be able to benefit from the opportunities digital brings and joining the coalition is an important step in ensuring this is the case.

“This pandemic has amplified the digital skills gap and the need for digital skills in life and work. We are looking forward to being a part of FutureDotNow to build collective action and drive change that supports our residents.”

Since local control of the devolved Adult Education Budget (AEB) was transferred to Greater Manchester, in its first year the AEB has enabled over 3,000 Greater Manchester residents to access basic digital skills training between August 2019 and July 2020, despite the effects of the pandemic.  GMCA will continue to increase access to basic digital skills across Greater Manchester through the AEB including expanding the existing offer to support residents to obtain a Level 2 in digital skills.

Addressing the digital skills shortage is a key focus of the Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint, a three-year plan which sets our Greater Manchester’s commitment to being a digital city-region that puts residents at the heart of its plans.

Liz Williams MBE, FutureDotNow’s chief executive, said:

“The workplace digital-skills crisis is holding back businesses and the economy. GMCA has set a clear ambition to become a world-leading digital city-region, and I’m delighted to welcome it to the FutureDotNow coalition.  Together we will work with businesses across Greater Manchester to accelerate digital upskilling and ensure working- age adults are equipped with the essential digital skills vital for their future prosperity and to realise economic benefits for the region.”

Tackling the digital skills shortage is part of the wider work of GMCA through the Digital Inclusion Agenda for Change for Greater Manchester. Last year, GMCA established the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce, bringing together senior leaders, industry, community groups and local government to drive ambitions to be a 100% digitally-enabled city-region.

FutureDotNow is helping business understand the UK’s workplace digital skills crisis, build collective action and drive change. The FutureDotNow coalition, currently 142 members, includes Accenture, Asda, BT, Good Things Foundation, Lloyds Banking Group, M&S, Nationwide Building Society, Nominet and PwC among others.

[1] The Essential Digital Skills Framework was developed by the government and industry to reflects the range of skills people need to benefit safely from, participate in and contribute to the digital world in life and at work.  

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