From education to employment

Major boost for Manchester’s most disadvantaged youngsters as Mayor Andy Burnham opens new digital skills college

Ada, the National College for Digital Skills

#AdaLovelaceDay New Manchester Campus opens on National Day of Celebration of Ada Lovelace #ALD20 

Budding programmers and tech whizz kids in Manchester – Europe’s fastest growing tech hub – will soon be able to attend a new college designed to help them take their first step into a range of tech careers with some of the UK’s biggest companies.

Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, opens its new campus on Oxford Road, Manchester today (13 Oct), building on the success of its college in London. Ada Manchester will be a free-to-attend college, targeting girls and students from low-income backgrounds.

It has strong backing from government and companies in the region such as AO, Arup,, Bruntwood, Callsign, Deloitte, GP Bullhound, Magnetic North, Sykes Cottages and 53 Degrees Capital.

Ada Manchester will be formally launched by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham in a virtual event where he will be joined by the top team at Ada, current Ada students and a panel of experts to discuss increasing diversity in tech. 

The launch coincides with Ada Lovelace Day, which pays homage to the 19th century mathematician, recognised as one of the first computer programmers, and from whom the college takes its name.

Ada will welcome its first new cohort ofstudents to the Manchester campus in February 2021, when they will begin a two-year programme to reach the Level 4 Software Developer Standard with an optional third year of study to reach a BSc Degree Apprenticeship.

The tailored learning experience that Ada primes young people for rewarding careers and gives a huge boost to local, national, and international businesses located in Manchester, who will be looking for diverse, young, and innovative minds to join their teams in the years to come.

Students who attended Ada in London have gone on to forge careers in a range of top-flight organisations, including Google, Deloitte, Salesforce, Goldman Sachs, Vodafone, BT, KPMG, CISCO and Fujitsu.

Ada chief executive Mark Smith said:

“We’re very proud of what we have achieved over the last four years and look forward to building on this in Manchester.

“There is so much local talent that we are keen to nurture and develop, creating and supporting a pipeline of tech-talent for the North – we’re really excited to start this next chapter.”

Geoff Stevenson, who is leading on the Ada Manchester campus, said: 

“Even in the middle of the pandemic there is a real buzz about the tech ecosystem in Manchester. We’re a proud, innovative and diverse city, and the perfect place for an Ada campus. 

“It’s a privilege to grow the impact of Ada in the region – to provide a boost to the sector by providing much needed local digital talent while impacting hundreds of lives.”

Tiffany Hall, Chair of Ada, said:

“Ada Lovelace is a huge inspiration for me, and I want her to inspire many more women to succeed in the tech world. Our job is to work with young people who have a desire and aptitude for technology but need to hone their skills and business acumen. I am delighted that we will be able to help more women into the roles they deserve and change the tech industry for the better.”

Ada will welcome its first new cohort ofstudents to the Manchester campus in February 2021. 

Manchester is the fastest growing European tech city, with an increase in investment of £48m to £181m from 2018 to 2019 – representing an increase of 277% (Tech Nation Report, 2020) 

Manchester has a £5 billion digital economy (Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint, 2020) 

51% of companies in Greater Manchester believe that developer skills will be the most important for them over the next three years, which is an increase on previous years. (Manchester Digital Skills Audit, 2020) 

72% of employers in Greater Manchester said they will not interview a candidate who lacks basic computer skills and people in work who acquire digital skills achieve a rise in earnings of 3-10%. (GMCA Digital Strategy, 2018)  

Founded by Mark Smith and Tim Fogden, Ada has attracted more than 500 students since it opened in 2016.  

Its innovative curriculum is designed and delivered in collaboration with employers to ensure programmes rigorously address the needs of industry. 

Its founding partners include Bank of America, Deloitte, IBM, Gamesys and King.  

It provides higher-level apprenticeships for more than 40 companies in the UK, including Deloitte, Facebook, Sainsbury’s and Asos. 

Ada is a force for social mobility and inclusion, with a target of 50% of its cohort being female and 50% from low-income backgrounds. 

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