From education to employment

HOST’s Skills City awarded £1.2m from the Department for Education to fast-track 450 people into tech careers in the North West

Jen, Mo and Bella

Skills City (@SkillsCity_HOST), a unique digital skills powerhouse set to transform talent diversity in the North West, has been awarded £1.2 million from the Department for Education (DfE) to deliver six Skills Bootcamps, fast-tracking 450 people into technology careers. 

Developed by HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology at MediaCityUK, it is pioneering demand-led digital skills and talent provision at a scale to maximise the choices available to employers and learners.

This follows the launch of Skills City in March and having secured the funding in response to the government’s £36 million national tenders, it already has the unique infrastructure in place to deliver a full spectrum of technology disciplines across the six Skills Bootcamps – part of the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and Plan for Jobs.

The funding will support 450 people with fair access to digital skills training, by breaking the barriers faced by those from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds and empowering them into technology careers. 

It has committed that 50 per cent of learners will be represented by women in order to drive gender parity in the tech sector.

The number of people on Universal Credit has doubled to 6 million since the beginning of the pandemic, with a greater proportion coming from the North West.

Skills City is the first-of-its-kind to offer a range of alternative routes to employment in the tech sector and works with communities across the region to provide opportunities to people who may not have access, such as those on career breaks or who are financially disadvantaged.

The Skills Bootcamps are employer-led with support from industry leaders including BAE Systems and Bentley Motors, and XR and immersive experts Taran3D and v360.

It will offer fully funded training to 360 people across five Skills Bootcamps, including cloud engineering run in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) through its AWS re/Start programme, and cyber security with Raytheon Professional Services, a Raytheon Technologies company, one of the largest aviation, space and defence companies in the world, where learners gain skills as a junior SoC analyst.

Unity Professional involves learning development tools for programming or artist training with the expert team from the UK’s only Unity Centre of Excellence, based at HOST. 

Niyo Enterprise will also deliver its specialist Skills Bootcamps in Black Codhers software engineering and Black Disruptors data analytics for black women, offering tailored access to training and careers.

For the Unity in Industry course, in partnership with The University of Salford, 90 places will be partly funded alongside a 30 per cent contribution from employers to upskill their staff in Unity programming, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating interactive, real-time 3D (RT3D) content.

Learners will have the chance to take part in projects to put their skills to the test and a majority will also get to work on real-life commercial projects provided by partner organisations. The courses also give personal development support to help prepare them for interviews and a tech career. 

Skills Bootcamps are flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4.0 Group, operator of HOST, said: “It is a huge privilege to have this recognition for Skills City and to be a chosen partner for the Department for Education, we have an amazing opportunity to offer this alternative provision to our communities in the North West. 

“Helping to fast-track people who previously would not have had access to these opportunities into world-class technology careers is what we originally set out to do, and having reached this landmark, we are excited to change the dynamic of future skills and technology talent. 

“With Skills City, we have designed a unique blueprint to give employers and learners choice and our mission is to operate across the UK. We may be about technology, but the benefits we bring are all about people.”

Tom Stannard, Salford City Council Chief Executive, said: “We’re extremely proud of our partnership with HOST and the awarding of this funding is not only an extremely exciting prospect, but also thoroughly deserved. The creation of Skills City and the potential the programme has to literally help change people’s lives with fairer access to digital training is truly inspiring.

“Skills City dovetails perfectly with our own council priorities around skills and education and our goal to tackle skills inequalities by connecting people with training and new job opportunities in growth sectors in the city. Supporting residents to continue with their education and the transition into sustainable jobs is hugely important for us and this funding offers a unique opportunity for Salford people.”

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