6 March 2017
Coming to UKFast to get to know digital business in the north, the minister hosted a lunch with leaders from businesses including Social Chain, GP Bullhound, SkyBet and Jigsaw Medical, as well as fellow cloud firm ANS.
It was an incredible honour to host the event and be part of the conversation surrounding the growth of our digital economy and the government’s digital strategy, especially in a week when we’re about to hear the latest budget and the government’s digital strategy has just been announced.
Ultimately, it is up to businesses like the ones around the table today to guide the government’s agenda – especially when it comes to connectivity and skills.
A large part of my discussion with Matt surrounded training and development, and tackling the skills gap. I believe that UKFast is setting an example when it comes to training. We had former school teachers leading our industry-certified testing and training centre, creating their own curriculums for apprentices, and working closely with schools across the UK to deliver hands-on tech experience with pupils. It is extraordinary, especially when you consider that we are working with 57,000 children across Greater Manchester alone.
I also spoke to Matt about our apprenticeship scheme; a programme that has seen us training 50 young people to equip them for careers in tech. One of our apprentices is now running a department, earning more than his mum and dad combined! One of the key points we all agreed upon was the importance of apprenticeships in the future of our country.
We also teach soft skills alongside the technical knowledge to ensure that these young people are employable not only for their excellent technical knowledge but for being fantastic people too. I think that’s the key here – we heard at the table that whilst there are computing courses churning out graduates, the skills are out of date.
The way to build a bridge over the skills gap is to develop transferable skills and ways of thinking. Programming skills rely on extraordinary problem-solving skills, tenacity and an innovative streak. Developing these qualities in young people is the way to future proof their technical knowledge for generations to come.
What do you think?