From education to employment

Leading Welsh employers collaborate to shape digital skills

As the digital world evolves, companies are increasing their investment in new technologies to enable better security, data analysis, and business productivity. With this innovation comes a growing digital skills gap and a need to adapt quickly in terms of upskilling the modern workforce.

To respond to this need, Gower College Swansea launched a Digital Employer Advisory Board in 2018. Board representatives consist of leading Welsh employers of all sizes such as Admiral, HSBC, Dŵr Cymru, BBC, DVLA, the Office for National Statistics, Companies House, Intellectual Property Office, Swansea Bay University Health Board, Swansea Council, Arvato, Tinopolis, Vizolution, Simply Do Ideas and Vortex IoT.

Other influential stakeholders such as Welsh Government, Industry Wales, TechHub and the Regional Learning and Skills Partnership also sit on the Board.

The Board quickly identified a need to create a digital skills pipeline for employers, with a lack of appropriate learning and development solutions being cited as requiring immediate attention.

Gower College Swansea then partnered with sector experts TramshedTech and Big Learning Company to develop robust and expert courses to support the growth of digital skills within industry.

“The rise of big data and analytics is necessary to drive innovation and change,” says Louise Harris, CEO of TramshedTech / Big Learning Company. “However, such growth could be restricted by a lack of skilled people in the market. Developing the skills required to analyse and manage big data is going to be challenging and it is widely publicised that, by 2020, there will be one million unfilled jobs in the IT sector primarily because the skills we have today need to evolve and adapt for the future.” 

“This is why Gower College Swansea is working with experts in the IT industry, and at the cutting edge of emerging technology innovation, to develop and deliver courses that work for today but also future proof the workforce of tomorrow.”

Working in collaboration, Gower College Swansea, Big Learning Company and leading employers have developed the following fully funded apprenticeship qualifications, some of which are Level 4 (the equivalent to the first year of a degree):

  • Cyber Security
  • Data Analytics
  • IT, Software, Web and Telecommunications
  • Digital Application Support
  • Digital Learning Design
  • Digital Marketing.

“Cutting edge digital skills have been identified as a key necessity within both the Swansea Bay and Cardiff Capital Region City Deals,” says Paul Kift, Director of Skills and Business Development at Gower College Swansea. “These skills are also in huge demand across Wales, the UK and globally. We set up the Digital Employer Board to ensure that our region is equipped to thrive – we have listened to our employer partners and have developed our provision to bridge the very real skills gap that we face.”

“Apprenticeships can be used to train existing staff at all ages (including leaders and managers) and are 100% funded, a fact that many businesses still seem to be unaware of. This provides a huge opportunity to upskill existing employees with specialist digital expertise, at no financial cost, and offers organisations an opportunity to invest in their people via accredited learning.”

Professor Tom Crick MBE, Chair of the College’s Employer Advisory Board added, “This is a hugely welcome and timely initiative by Gower College Swansea, which reflects the shifting nature of skills provision and once again reaffirms the significant impact of digital, data and technology on our society, culture and economy.”

“These new apprenticeship programmes have been developed in collaboration with the College’s Employer Advisory Board, as well as wider stakeholder engagement across a range of key industrial sectors to ensure their currency and relevance, providing learners with significant employment and progression opportunities going forward.”

“I very much look forward to seeing these apprenticeships supporting the growth of the digital and data economy in the Swansea Bay City Region, as well as Wales more generally.”

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