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Digital Skills Partnership

The government is working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Combined Authorities (CAs) to help establish Local Digital Skills Partnerships (Local DSPs) across the country to tackle local digital skills challenges and build thriving and inclusive local economies.

In 2018, three Local DSPs were set up in Lancashire, Heart of the South West and the West Midlands. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) invited all other LEPs and Mayoral CAs to submit Expressions of Interest to form a Local DSP pilot. A further three regions were selected, including the South East (Read more here).


The six Local Digital Skills Partnership trailblazers were allocated funding to employ a Regional Coordinator to coordinate the delivery of digital skills in their respective Local DSPs.

In July 2019, the South East LEP appointed James Wilkinson to coordinate its Digital Skills Partnership. James works collaboratively with both regional and national stakeholders to develop innovative models to improve digital skills across their regions, boost their local economies and share this best practice with other LEPs and CAs.

We’ll be regularly updating stakeholders across Kent, Essex and East Sussex about progress, sharing information about offers from regional and national DSP partners to help improve residents’ digital skills and inviting support from partners and individuals.


COVID-19: Support to NHS (27th March, Updated 3rd April)

The NHS are looking to develop a list of provider organisations and companies/individuals that are able to provide help and support through the current pandemic, for example around digitally upskilling staff and service users and setting up/enabling remote consultations etc. They’re looking to build a register of digital, data and technology professionals (a particular need is around field engineers or organisations that can assist in terms of training new engineers) that would be a starting point to enable the health service to understand who might be available to them and to then work up specific projects. The idea is that the NHS could develop a ‘digital passport’ to enable individuals to work within the health system and specific organisations. It will also enable the NHS to understand the additional capacity they may be able to call upon in future crises. If you or your organisation can help, please email james.wilkinson@southeastlep.com, giving information about individuals’ Job title/role, qualifications and professional membership, key skills, health sector experience and location/scope.


Our response to COVID-19 Outbreak

(1st April 2020)

We’ve contacted all members of the extended Digital Skills Partnership network in the South East, asking them to send us details of ways in which they’re helping education, businesses and residents to respond to the current situation. If you haven’t been contacted but would like to send details of your organisations’ offer, send details to james.wilkinson@southeastlep.com. Our aim is to have much of the response collated by cop Friday (the 27th) in order that we can share widely, as soon as possible, including here on the website. We’ve shared a short survey too (Link above) that will look to identify some of the specific gaps in terms of digital skills provision, in order that DSP members can come together to work to address. And we’re also pulling together a specific group of DSP partners that will act as our response team and help lead the DSP’s ongoing response.

In the meantime, here’s a list of some help and support available now and in the coming weeks. Apologies for the lack of order at this stage. We’ll put all information together in a clear and concise manner over the next week and share widely:

Business Support and Advice

Google have sent us this link to share with contacts, that focuses on using their tools for remote working. And information for educators and businesses about staying connected is available here. Google’s Digital Garage courses, including those focusing on digital marketing, data and time management are found here. The organisation have also published this list of upcoming webinars, beginning Monday April 6th, that are free to attend, including sessions focusing on digital advertising and social media strategies.

Google and BT’s Skills for Tomorrow (see more info about BT’s offer below) have partnered to deliver 12 free webinars for businesses, across a range of topics including Getting Visible on Google, Collaborative Tools, Social Media and Digital Advertising. Click on the link here to access the full list and sign up. Webinars start on the 9th of April.

Microsoft’s response to COVID-19 includes information and advice around remote working for businesses (and using MS Teams), as well as information for educators and communities.

Lloyds Bank have a host of free digital skills resources for users at any level at lloydsbankacademy.co.uk/. Resources are split into two sections, ‘Learn for everyday life’ and ‘Learn for Business’. The organisation are putting together a number of free-to-attend webinars too and we’ll share info once we know more.

https://zoom.us/ offers a free version of this conferencing tool that many of you will have been using already, includes unlimited 1-2-1’s and up to 40 minute group call function. With the increase in usage currently, worth checking out hints and tips for its safe use.

WeAreVirtual is WeAreTheCity’s new initiative to support communities that are working from home due to the outbreak. You can see a list of their free webinars and register to join here.

The South East Business Hub site has information and resources for small businesses, including specific advice and tools in relation to the outbreak. You can also access information about your local Growth Hub and get in touch with the respective team.

The Federation of Small Businesses has set up an online hub with advice for employers and the self-employed at https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html. Lots more help and advice, including that focusing on mental health and wellbeing, at their website.

The CBI’s hub shares daily global insights and analysis to help businesses respond to the pandemic, as well as daily webinars on a range of business topics from cyber security to access to finance. The hub helps businesses to understand how they can support the national effort, and highlights how the CBI is working with government to deliver for business.

The Institute of DirectorsCoronavirus Support Hub site includes a link to their Digital Academy resources and other information to help businesses. There’s a free webinar, titled ‘The Personal Psychology of Working from Home’, on the 2nd of April and you can sign up here.

Enterprise Nation’s support hub enables small businesses to connect with hundreds of advisers, offering free consultation calls on topics including law, insurance, sales and cashflow. If you are interested in becoming an adviser, please contact Polly Dhaliwal at polly@enterprisenation.com

The Innovation Centre, based on the Knowledge Gateway, Colchester, have lined up a number of webinars, in partnership with the University of Essex, focusing on business resilience in the face of the epidemic. You can see the list and sign up here.

The Business and Local Government Data Research Centre provide support to organisations around data, including help to apply for grant-funded data analytics support from the team. In addition, they’re putting on a Virtual Data Consultation Clinic on 4th May, providing free 30 minute appointments to discuss how to use data more effectively and to explore any data-related research projects you may have in mind. You can contact the team to sign up for an appointment here.

JK Online, Clockwork Moggy and Dragon Coworking have come together to create a Facebook group for business owners and staff in the South East that are self-isolating called ‘Together’ that’s offering free lunch ‘n learn webinars on different topics for businesses, fitness and wellbeing sessions and other content. Take a look at https://togethernetworking.co.uk/ and you can join the Facebook group from there too.

Lucy Hall from Social Day is running free Facebook #shemeansbusiness training sessions, every Thursday and Friday at 10am. Register to watch live or recorded sessions at the Facebook page here. Lucy also runs a digital skills support community ‘DigitalWomen Here’ and ‘DigitalWomen.live’, you can join the group here. And SocialDay.live is sharing social media skills videos and interviews for free every week here. You can sign up to the Digital Women Live online conference on 15th and 16th April here too.

Factory Internet, an IT Consultancy and Support firm based in Hastings, is offering free advisory services to SME’s around tech, security and cloud software solutions. If you’d like to take advantage of their support, email jo.saxby@factoryinternet.co.uk.

52eight3, a marketing and PR consultancy based in West Sussex, are offering marketing professionals and business owners the chance to talk through how best to deal with the current situation, from managing your social media, announcing good news, awards entries, soundboarding your communications strategy or mid-long lead opportunities for Q3 and beyond. If you’d like to book a slot with the team there, email them here.

Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce provide a regular update for businesses that include helpful information and links for readers, you can take a look here. They’ve also produced this Guidance for Remote Working that you may find useful.

Silicon Brighton Online is free to attend on 30th April, between 10am and 8pm. The day will see 25+ speakers (to be confirmed soon) and brings together their three types of meetup: Tech, Insights and Leaders. Silicon Brighton are looking for donations from attendees to go to the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS.

Accenture have produced online materials to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including those focusing on acting to maintain responsive customer service, supply chain resilience, building human resilience and creating a digital elastic workplace.

techUK is the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, with more than 850 members spread across the UK. It’s comprehensive COVID-19 information hub contains advice and resources for businesses and communities.

The National Cyber Security Centre has published guidance to support organisations and staff with home working. See also: “I’ve received a suspicious email”: Guidance on dealing with suspicious emails, and Top tips for staff: Free online cyber security training for employees. 

The Data Skills Taskforce, supported by DCMS, has created a free online platform providing access to content for SMEs to help develop their data skills. The platform has a self-assessment tool that helps you understand your organisational and technical readiness with respect to data, and signposts you to relevant resources and training.

Charity Digital are streaming a webinar on the 9th of April to help charities understand the tools, resources and strategies that charities can put in place to help manage the impact of COVID-19. The organisation has additional tips for charities on it’s website including how to get started with digital fundraising platforms.

Charities on their digital transformation journey may also find Catalyst’s practical and how to articles useful.

Fundraising Everywhere and Salesforce have partnered to deliver the Global Virtual Summit Supporting Charities through COVID-19 on April 2nd. To register to attend click here. Sessions include opportunities and risks, quickly diversifying income, becoming digital-focused and engaging with major donors in a crisis.

Attest have begun tracking consumer sentiment, perception, and behaviour in light of the growing pandemic – and started share these findings here.

Capgemini’s COVID-19 response pages include information to help businesses with tips around remote working and collaboration, and leadership.

KPMG’s UK site includes a list of webinars discussing critical business issues related to COVID-19, as well as other advice and resources here.

Deloitte are delivering a weekly webinar ‘Responding to COVID-19: Updates and Practical Steps’. The webinar takes place every Thursday from 1-1.30pm and you can register here

Sage are delivering a number of webinars to help businesses understand the Government support available. You can register and find advice here.

Dell Technologies have some webinar content to help organisations implement remote working practices here.

Students/Educators/Young People and Kids

Google have set up this temporary information hub for teachers and 3 new collections have been added to their Applied Digital Skills curriculum – Teach from Anywhere, Work from Anywhere and Learn from Anywhere.

Lloyds Bank have a host of free digital skills resources for users at any level at lloydsbankacademy.co.uk/. Resources are split into two sections, ‘Learn for everyday life’ and ‘Learn for Business’. The organisation are putting together a number of free-to-attend webinars too and we’ll share info once we know more.

STEM Learning’s new support tool will be updated weekly with new activities and engaging content for parents, young people and teachers. The organisation also welcomes suggestions or questions on their new Education Live Chat service.

UK University Search are holding a live webinar on Wednesday 8th April, enabling students to ask questions of representatives of 6 and hear from reps on subjects such as the benefits of university, choosing a course, personal statements and student finance. Students are encouraged to sign up to the Zoom session but the event will also be streamed on Youtube for those unable to.

OpenLearn is a free learning platform, delivered by The Open University as part of its Royal Charter commitment to support the wellbeing of the community. Here you will find almost 1,000 free courses, topical and interactive content, videos and online games. FutureLearn is a digital education platform jointly owned by The Open University and SEEK Ltd, where you can find content from The Open University and over 140 education partners. The content is made available free of charge to an individual learner.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is a national membership organisation that represents the interests of an extensive number of organisations. Members deliver the majority of Britain’s apprenticeships, traineeships and programmes for the unemployed. Their website contains information and advice, as well as a list of upcoming webinar sessions.

Pathway CTM have opened up all of their digital events to all students (aged 15+) with immediate effect. If any of your students in your network would like to join their free Programme, they can sign up here. Teachers can sign up to receive updates on their upcoming events by sending an email to schools.team@pathwayctm.com.

Make it Click has been developed by The Good Things Foundation and includes a growing library of digital skills content from trusted websites, including courses around creating a CV, online security and social media.

Cisco’s Network Academy has a list of online courses available through the site, many of which are free to learners. Includes topics such as Introduction to Cyber Security, Introduction to the Internet of Things and Basic Computer Skills (eg. social media, internet navigation and simple networking).

The Institute of Coding is a partnership of 33 Universities and over 100 employers across the UK. Funded by the Department for Education, the IoC contains a list of courses available across the country, including those that are free to attend.

The DigitalGrads Academy provides free online training to help upskill recent University graduates and prepare them for the world of work in the tech industry. They’re opening up their criteria to anyone who wants to gain some vital digital or career skills, allowing individuals to take their training free of charge. Individuals need to set up an account to access the free training here.

The Prince’s Trust are continuing to support young people through virtual sessions on employability, well-being, self-employment, and bespoke training opportunities. For further information please visit their website https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/ and contact their customer support team who will connect you to the local provision. The Trust have established an emergency Young Person Relief Fund and are looking for donations from supporters to help grow the fund and support young people at this time of crisis.

The Royal Institution are delivering ExpeRimental Live every Thursday at 2pm, for children and their parents/carers. These live science sessions will be followed by a Q&A and are available via their Facebook page.

From 20th April, BBC Bitesize will be sharing regular daily lessons in English and Maths and other core subjects, in an expanded version of their website and on special programmes on BBC iPlayer and the red button. For more information, take a look here.

Techmums, founded by Dr Sue Black, want every mum to be comfortable enough with technology to encourage and challenge their children to get the most out of every opportunity. You can sign up to their free online Tech Taster course here.

STEMettes are running 3 online events per week, beginning 23rd March, to continue their goal to inspire, motivate and teach young women that Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths careers are for them too. You can access content here, including early sessions.

Girls Who Code have released free-to-download online computer science educational activities at www.girlswhocode.com/code-at-home.

Code Academy are offering 10,000 free scholarships to high school and college students across the world for the remainder of the school year, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Courses include those focusing on web development and data science.

Cyber Engineers are offering free-to-enrol courses including Introduction to Cyber Security, Introduction to the Internet of Things and Programming Essentials in Python, and are holding live virtual classes every weekday, from 10-12pm for individuals aged 18-24, not in education, employment or training and living in kent or Medway. If you meet the criteria and are interested in taking part, email Gloria Opara here.

https://cyberschool.ac are providing free-to-attend online cyber security and computer science lessons for school-aged children in Key Stage 2, 3 and 4. Lessons are held twice daily and last 1 hour, with students attending via Zoom (see above), starting on 30th March.

The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA) is free and helps students develop digital, enterprise and employability skills. As mini subjects are completed you move through your Bronze, Silver, Gold award. More information can be found here

Apps for Good have a focus on empowering young people to problem solve using not only apps, but Internet of Things and machine learning through their latest emerging technology courses and have a number of home study courses on offer for free, including App development, Machine Learning and Internet of Things. You can view the courses here.

CompTIA is offering a free 30-day licence to IT Fundamentals+ at https://certs.comptia.org/means_more/. Students have 30 days to complete the course and will gain an improved understanding of key topics, including Software Development, Infrastructure, Security and Troubleshooting.

MEL Academy are offering free science webinars for the next 3 months, enabling students to conduct hands-on science experiments, explore VR lessons, and learn online, with the help of science teachers.

Qube Learning, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, have made all of their Qube Vision programmes and courses free to enrol before the end of April 2020. To redeem this offer, please simply enter the code ‘QUBEVISIONAPR’ at the checkout. For the list of programmes click on this link.

Barefoot is part of BT Skills for Tomorrow, and aims to equip primary teachers with the confidence and knowledge to deliver Computer Science in order to bring computing to life in the classroom. You can access their online content for free, including CPD for teaching staff here.

Scratch is a programming language and an online community where children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world. As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically.

Azoomee have produced online resources including help for those working at home with the kids around and some fun activities, including those focused on coding.


Supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) FutureDotNow has developed a new initiative, DevicesDotNow, to support the most vulnerable get online as we face the Covid-19 pandemic. The new initiative is targeting the 1.7 million households which don’t have access to the internet and are digitally excluded.

Can your organisation help? The DevicesDotNow campaign is asking businesses to donate tablets, smartphones and laptops, as well as connectivity in the form of sim cards, dongles and mobile hotspots. Find out more here

Google have published this list of upcoming free webinars, focusing on topics such as build a cv and cover letter, build your personal brand online and writing for social media.

BT have free resources and information to help people with the various challenges presented by the outbreak, including accessing GP services online and using the NHS website, video calling for families and accessing public services at www.bt.com/skillsfortomorrow.

Citizens Online has curated a list of resources to help us stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues, including guidance on how best to support the elderly and vulnerable.  

All library services in the South East have a wide range of online resources, available free when people join their local authority library service. The offer includes ebooks, eaudiobooks, emagazines and enewspapers. Take a look at libraries.essex.gov.uk, eastsussex.gov.uk and kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/libraries.

Mental Health UK have created this repository of advice for individuals around managing mental health through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The National Careers Service continues to provide free, professional careers information, advice and guidance to individuals, via the telephone and webchat. You can access their support via the website, including a range of online tools.

The Money Advice Service have put together information on their website, including https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-and-your-money and https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you.

Hastings Digital Museum has been launched to counter the increase in social isolation and loneliness. The Museum is publishing a daily programme of posts and activities, including downloadable resources for children and families, collection highlight videos and recordings. Like the Facebook page (hastingsmuseum) and follow their twitter and instagram page (@hastings_museum) where they’re using #hastingsdigitalmuseum and #DontBeAlone. 

Hexitime has been temporarily repurposed to relieve pressure on NHS Key Workers, with help from their NHS colleagues. Hexitime is free to anyone working in Healthcare and signatories can request and offer help, volunteer or share opportunities to volunteer, share ideas and experiences, set up project teams and stay connected.

We’ll continue to update the website and share information with partners over the coming days. If you’d like to be added to the SE DSP distribution list, email james.wilkinson@southeastlep.com