Programme will give young people digital skills to address sector shortage

The digital training programme is aimed at giving young people across Scotland the skills they need for the jobs marketplace
The digital training programme is aimed at giving young people across Scotland the skills they need for the jobs marketplace

A TRAINING programme to help young unemployed people across Scotland to learn digital skills to ease the crisis in the sector is being backed by tech giant Microsoft and the charitable arm of a major international bank.

Generation UK, the youth employment charity, has teamed up with Microsoft and the JP Morgan Chase Charitable Foundation to deliver the initiative, which is aimed at unemployed people between 18 and 29.

Almost 42,000 people between 16-24 are unemployed in Scotland and the two philanthropic bodies will work jointly to empower young people from underrepresented communities into future-proof, stable employment.

The programme will directly tackle the digital skills shortage across the country and equip young people with the skills to pursue careers in technology.

They will be trained for roles in the highest-demand technology skillsets in the area including IT support, data engineering and cloud computing.

The initiative will particularly facilitate access to tech roles for women and ethnic minority groups, and will prioritise training for underrepresented groups across Scotland.

Research has indicated that in excess of 70% of Scottish businesses find skills shortages are impacting their profitability, with acute challenges in advanced technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics, and software engineering.

This will be one of the first tech programmes of its type launched across Edinburgh and Glasgow and will initially target 150 learners across six cohorts over the next 18 months, with the first starting in March.

Since its inception in 2019, Generation UK has worked to train young people across the UK with the necessary skills to access life-changing careers against the odds.

It will now work closely with public sector bodies, charity and government-run employability programmes and local employers to meet their needs and focus on some of the more deprived areas.

Youth unemployment in Glasgow sits at 9%, with 29% of the city’s population living in 10% of the most deprived parts of Scotland. As the pandemic has disproportionately affected employment amongst young people in Scotland, particularly those from black or Asian backgrounds, the initiative hopes to address these issues and will run as a set of multi-week full time training bootcamps for young people without degrees, who are facing barriers to employment.

“By tackling the digital skills shortage across Scotland, we have a real opportunity to support meaningful and sustainable employment for many young people and bolster much-needed skilled talent to address business needs,” said Michael Houlihan, CEO at Generation UK.

“Understanding the challenges that young people have faced around employment because of the pandemic is equally as important.

“We are particularly interested in reaching hard to reach communities and those from underrepresented backgrounds that may have long felt forgotten, to give them a real opportunity to enter a sector that is thriving and looking for talent to support its growth.”

Glasgow East MP David Linden, the SNP Spokesperson for Work and Pensions, said: “I am delighted to hear about Generation UK’s launch in Scotland and I very much look forward to hearing about the positive impact their work will have here in Glasgow as well as Edinburgh.

“There can be no doubt that young people have been at the sharp end of this pandemic and consequential recession.”

Steven Grier, Scotland country manager at Microsoft UK, said: “Scotland’s recovery depends on creating a workforce that can tackle the digital skills shortage and unlock opportunity. To create that workforce, sectors must work together to create more accessible and inclusive pathways to digital careers.”

Stephanie Mestrallet, head of UK programming – global philanthropy at JP Morgan Chase Foundation, added: “Building a skilled workforce and ensuring that all students have access to the support and real world experiences they need is critical to building an inclusive economy that works for all.”