Local people to land new jobs in tech sector, thanks to extra £1.5m funding for digital bootcamps

Hundreds more local people are to benefit from free training to land new jobs in the digital sector under a package of skills initiatives announced today (Tuesday September 29) by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Around £1.5m will be made available to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) so it can hold more of its popular digital bootcamps which offer people a guaranteed job interview on completion.

The extra funding is part of an £8m pot for digital bootcamps in six locations across the country - part of a Government drive to boost the country’s economic recovery by transforming the skills and training system.

Local people to land new jobs in tech sector, thanks to extra £1.5m funding for digital bootcamps

Rufaro Chibanda from Birmingham, who landed a new job in tech as a result of joining a digital bootcamp funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority

The Prime Minister’s announcement comes after the West Midlands recently set out the need for further training opportunities to help recharge the region. The far reaching blueprint: Kickstarting the West Midlands Economy: Our investment case to government put an emphasis on skills for jobs in future growth sectors such as digital and 5G.

The bootcamps will be flexible courses lasting up to 16 weeks and will focus on the skills local employers need to fill vacancies.

Some of the funding will be used for training in digital skills in the advanced manufacturing sector to upskill people whose jobs are at risk from automation.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Re-skilling and up-skilling have such critical roles to play in our region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and one of our key asks of Government as part of our plans to protect and create jobs was extra support for this across the region. It is very encouraging therefore to see the Prime Minister respond so positively to our lobbying efforts and the needs of the West Midlands.

“Tragically as a result of Covid, people are losing their jobs in the region, so training in the skills of the future that employers want and need is a crucial way to help people bounce back into employment quickly. The West Midlands has been leading the way on training in recent years thanks to our devolved Adult Education Budget, particularly in the construction and digital sectors to get people into the jobs of the future, and we will continue to do so in the wake of today’s announcement.

“Our Construction Gateway programme, for example, is helping train people to work on the region’s major infrastructure projects – including HS2 and the Commonwealth Games – whilst the extra £1.5 million we have specifically secured from Government today will allow us to fund a new series of digital bootcamps with a guaranteed job interview at the end of the training.

“This latest Government support will add to our local schemes that are already up and running, and we will look to get our new bootcamp courses live as soon as possible. I would urge anyone who has fallen out of work or who is worried about their future employment, to please see what training options are available through the WMCA.”

Today’s announcement builds on the £5m retraining that the West Midlands Combined Authority is already delivering to give unemployed people and those in low-paid jobs the skills they need to start new careers in the digital sector, with 70 per cent of learners gaining new jobs as a result.

The West Midlands Combined Authority has already funded 20 digital bootcamps for more than 750 adults since last October.

These include the Women in Software Academy, which is delivered by Birmingham training provider TechTalent.

Rufaro Chibanda, aged 23, from Birmingham, had been looking for a new opportunity since January, so decided to apply for the Women in Software Academy and started the bootcamp in May.

Rufaro had previously studied computer science and completed an MSc while working part time. She had wanted to work in tech since she was in the sixth form, but felt that women weren’t encouraged to pursue a career in the industry.

The 12-week course covered a range of topics including: Python, HTML and CSS, JavaScript Pandas/NumPy, Coding, Cyber, Java Fundamentals, Django/Flask Fundamentals and finished up with Agile Foundation.

Rufaro said: “Joining the academy changed my life. For the first time, I was part of a community of women in tech. The academy gave me so much confidence in my skills and my abilities that I have secured my first job in tech.

“I am now working as a data scientist, which involves using data to make informed business decisions. I would never have thought about applying for this job if I hadn’t joined the Women in Software Academy.”

The new bootcamps will start later this year.

To find out about more about starting a new career in digital, or improving your existing skills, visit https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/power-up/