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Academies set-up to tackle UK's digital skills gap

The first academies will be located in Derby and Cardiff and aim to boost students’ existing technology skills

Microsoft and Risual want to help build a workforce fit for the digital age
Microsoft and Risual want to help build a workforce fit for the digital age

Microsoft and Risual, an IT services company and Microsoft Gold partner, are opening five new academies to tackle the serious digital skills gap across the UK. The first will be located in Derby and it has been set-up in partnership with a select group of colleges.


The academies are the result of a call from companies for more computer-literate staff. A survey carried out by the digital skills charity Go On found that almost a quarter of adults in the UK (23 per cent) – an estimated 12.6 million – lack the five basic digital skills. These are: 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. 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 £600 million to the Welsh economy and making up 6 per cent of the total UK economy, the Microsoft Academy will provide much-needed digital skills to employers across the country.


Mike James, principal and chief executive of Cardiff and Vale College, added: “The launch of this innovative academy will be of vast benefit to not only our students, apprentices and staff but also to the employers of the City Region. Our aim is to tackle the skills gap seen on a national level and create a real hub for digital skills growth right across the South East Wales City Region and beyond.


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