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Trailblazing scheme to enhance digital skills and get local people into employment, launches in the SELEP area

A Government-backed scheme to drive up digital skills in Essex, Kent and East Sussex, to boost local economies and create inclusive communities, is launching on June 12.

Taking place at the historically and architecturally-unique, St Mary in the Castle, Hastings, from 1-4pm, the event will kick-start the creation of a Local Digital Skills Partnership led by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).

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The Partnership will bring together regional businesses, large employers, charities and public sector organisations to tackle local digital skills challenges, supported by corporate partners and Government.

Louise Aitken, Skills Lead (SELEP), said: “The partnership will work to build thriving and inclusive local economies, building on existing innovation and experience, most notably the virtual reality and online learning which will enable learning in spaces such as prisons and rural areas. Such tools raise the profile of local growth sectors in a new and exciting way, and remove barriers to work caused by lack of skills and geographical location.”

SELEP has already utilised some of its European Social Fund, to support projects enabling virtual reality and online learning to assist people into, and in, work.

The founding of the Partnership is backed by £75,000 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, following SELEP’s successful funding bid, developed in partnership with local SMEs. This includes funding fora Partnership Co-ordinator, for one year,

The co-ordinator – whose appointment is imminent – will establish the Partnership, draw up a project plan, and spend one day a month at Whitehall with counterparts from other LEPs.

The partnership, itself, will have strong links to the employer-led LEP Skills Advisory Panel and to the Local Industrial Strategy. As home to nearly 170,000 enterprises across a range of sectors, the opportunity is significant.

The Government backing will also facilitate introductions to, and joint working with, a number of corporates including Google, IBM, Microsoft and Intel. Introductions have already taken place with PWC (Tech she can), Lloyds Bank Digital UK Insights, Tech Talent Charter, Teen Tech and Freeformers/Facebook. Research and data support will also be provided by the Government.

At the launch event, guests can enjoy a light lunch and listen to speeches from a leading industry expert and a Government minister. There will be a spotlight on what’s happening locally and panel discussion, followed by a networking opportunity. Presentations will showcase local work such as Plumpton College virtual reality and online learning, East Sussex College Group pilot work for the digital T-level and Seaview’s project on digital inclusion for homeless people, commissioned by NHS Digital. There will also be spotlights on Essex and Kent, showcasing the thriving digital and screen industry in Kent. The event will be chaired by SELEP’s Chair Christian Brodie.