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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 Response Update (27th March)

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 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.


South East Digital Skills Partnership – Response to COVID-19 Outbreak (23rd March 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:

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. They’ve set up this temporary information hub for teachers too. Google Digital Garage courses, including those focusing on digital marketing, data and time management are found here. 3 new collections have been added to their Applied Digital Skills curriculum – Teach from Anywhere, Work from Anywhere and Learn from Anywhere.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Additional resources for schools and colleges are available at the likes of https://www.barefootcomputing.org/, https://2simple.com/purple-mash/ and https://idea.org.uk/.

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.

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.

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.

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 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. 

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.

The Open University have a list of free courses available to enrol upon here, including many that are digital-related.

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.

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