New academies to tackle serious digital skills gap in UK

A series of new academies will be opened to tackle the serious digital skills gap across the UK, amid demand from companies for more computer-literate staff.

Five Microsoft and Risual academies are to be unveiled across the UK, with the first located in Derby, as part of a partnership with IT services company Risual and a select group of colleges.

It comes after Go.on, an organisation that encourages people to use technology, found that 23% of adults in the UK – an estimated 12.6 million – lack the five basic digital skills – the ability to manage personal information without phoning a more technically able relative, being able to communicate online, managing financial data including making payments, solving problems and the ability to create things with imaging tools.

Cardiff and Vale College is the first Microsoft and Risual academy in Wales, which has the lowest levels of internet access in the UK and poor knowledge of digital skills, on average.

The Welsh academy, at Cardiff and Vale College’s landmark £45m City Centre Campus in the Cardiff Central Enterprise Zone, will aim to boost students’ existing tech skills to create a digitally literate workforce for businesses across the region. Pupils will also earn Microsoft qualifications via workshops with industry experts and have the chance to land apprenticeships with Microsoft units.

Steve Beswick, senior director for education and charities at Microsoft UK, said: “Digital skills are vital to building a vibrant economy both now and in the future. We are delighted to be working with Cardiff and Vale College and Risual to open this Academy, which will be a centre of digital excellence and inspiration for students, teachers and employers in Cardiff and beyond.”

With the digital sector worth more than £600m to the Welsh economy and making up 6% of the total UK economy, the Microsoft Academy will provide much-needed digital skills to employers across the country.

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