Published: 09:46, 18 March 2019
| Updated: 09:47, 18 March 2019
A major new push to ensure Kent can meet the demand for digital skills has been launched.
The Digital Skills Partnership (DSP) will bring together businesses, public sector organisations and the charitable sector to focus on how best to ensure the need for these vital skills is met across the south east.
The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) will coordinate the DSP and act as a link between the government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and corporate partners including the likes of Google, IBM and local digital SMEs to help support residents and businesses across the area.
Research by SELEP reveals business growth is being held back with vacancy numbers remaining high and many companies struggling to recruit and retain digitally-focused staff.
In the last calendar year, it was reported there were more than 35,000 digital vacancies, including web and software developers, programmers and coders across the SELEP area, which covers Kent, Essex, East Sussex, Medway, Southend and Thurrock.
Across 195,000 enterprises in the SELEP area, the need to enhance access to digital skills included businesses ranging from agriculture, construction, education, IT, digital and creative, manufacturing and engineering sectors to transport, logistics and warehousing.
Minister for digital, Margot James said: “Businesses need people with the skills to thrive in the modern digital age. The new South East Local Digital Skills Partnership will help people get the skills that businesses need.
“This government’s modern industrial strategy is devoted to making sure everyone can enjoy the benefits of our thriving digital economy and help build a Britain fit for the future.”
Christian Brodie, chair of SELEP, added: “We made a compelling case for a South East DSP and we are delighted it has been recognised by the government.
“In order to improve our economic productivity, we urgently need to improve digital skills in our communities, by training, upskilling and reaching out to educators. This will help inform young people and adults of potential career routes, help those looking to return to the workplace and also support those who are currently disengaged from digital skills.
“By engaging with tech businesses across our area and civil servants we are confident we will be able to influence national policy and help our Skills Advisory Panel, currently being set up, help develop and bring forward initiatives to address local digital skills needs.”