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More than £14.7 million being invested in skills training for West Midlands' booming tech sector

Published: Tuesday 17 Oct 2023

More than £14.7 million is being invested by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in bespoke training schemes designed to help meet the skills need generated by the region’s booming tech sector. 

The scale of the training being funded by the WMCA was revealed as thousands of delegates gathered for Birmingham Tech Week 2023, the nation’s largest regional tech festival and conference. 

The WMCA skills investment will help underpin a £1 million blueprint, announced yesterday by TechWM, the not-for-profit organisation behind Birmingham Tech Week, to help the region realise its potential as a tech superpower. 

While the West Midlands had the fastest growing regional tech sector in the UK last year the speed of growth has left many companies struggling to find or retain enough staff with the right skills. 

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, and Martin Ward, the West Midlands Tech commissioner, attended Birmingham Tech Week to detail how the region can realise its digital technology potential by increasing productivity, supporting the growth of new and existing companies and creating a skilled workforce. 

The Mayor said: "Our region’s tech sector is experiencing unprecedented growth, and we’re committed to harnessing this momentum to further nurture the skills base that underpins the long-term success of our tech ecosystem. 

“This nearly £15 million in government investment will help us to create a vibrant landscape that supports tech start-ups, bolsters existing companies, and fosters innovation. 

“Our ambition is to establish the West Midlands as a global tech powerhouse - generating economic opportunities, driving innovation, and ensuring our region plays a pivotal role in the digital revolution in the months and years ahead."  

The WMCA’s digital skills funding was outlined during a Digital Skills Roundtable featuring the Mayor, Paul Scully MP - parliamentary under secretary of state for the department for science, innovation and technology - and several key figures from tech companies including Amazon and Microsoft. 

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, left, with Yiannis Maos MBE, Chief Executive Officer at TechWM, speaking at the leadership breakfast panel at the launch of Birmingham Tech Week. Photograph: Edwin Ladd/Mr Ladd Media.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, left, with Yiannis Maos MBE, Chief Executive Officer at TechWM, speaking at the leadership breakfast panel at the launch of Birmingham Tech Week. Photograph: Edwin Ladd/Mr Ladd Media.

Martin Ward, West Midlands Tech Commissioner, said: “Birmingham Tech Week is a celebration of our success as a leading regional tech economy and a key opportunity to discuss practical ways in which as a region we can reach our potential by creating a strong tech and digital ecosystem.  

“A crucial ingredient to achieving that is creating an environment that nurtures local talent and empowers the next generation of tech professionals. 

“By bringing together joined-up support systems, stimulating funding opportunities and developing our tech and digital skills base, the West Midlands can realise its ambition to become a global tech superpower.” 

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, left, with Yiannis Maos MBE, Chief Executive Officer at TechWM, speaking at the leadership breakfast panel at the launch of Birmingham Tech Week. Photograph: Edwin Ladd/Mr Ladd Media.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, left, with Yiannis Maos MBE, Chief Executive Officer at TechWM, speaking at the leadership breakfast panel at the launch of Birmingham Tech Week. Photograph: Edwin Ladd/Mr Ladd Media.

Hosting 25 sessions and 150 speakers, Birmingham Tech Week is the UK’s largest regional tech festival and conference and will take place from 16 to 22 October 2023. 

With a series of interactive events accompanied by a range of profile-raising activities for the sector, all facilitated by TechWM, Birmingham Tech Week will bring together tech founders, government officials, industry experts and around 7,500 attendees both online and in venues such as HSBC's HQ, The Bond Digbeth, The Exchange, and the International Convention Centre (ICC).   

Lord Kulveer, Ranger of Northwood, who is part of the West Midlands Tech & Digital Advisory Board as Chair for Digital Skills, said: “The West Midlands is digitally booming. It is exciting to see this type of rapid growth and innovation that I last witnessed in London a decade ago now occurring in this vibrant region and placing the West Midlands as a leading ecosystem for talent and investment on the international stage.  
 
“I am delighted to join the Advisory Board and to support Andy, Martin and Yiannis, and personally to focus on ensuring that the growth, and the opportunities it brings, is complimented by the development of a digitally skilled local workforce, young and old, from all backgrounds, who can be a part of an exciting digital economy both now and in the future." 

The conference was launched with a leadership meeting to kickstart discussion, with other key events taking place during the week. A Digital Road mapping session, hosted by the WMCA and facilitated by Microsoft UK, will focus on digital transformation and strategy - critical component for business growth. Bootcamp provider Niyo will be at the sessions to share proactive thoughts and ideas about how it has expanded its business using digital technology. 

A practical session on the Digital Railway and future of Ticketing, in partnership with Transport for West Midlands, part of the WMCA, and a session led by Logistic UK, with the Mayor giving a keynote speech will explore how digital transformation has empowered the logistics industry. 

TechWM’s flagship event, Birmingham Tech Week, will take place this week from 16-20 October, bringing thousands to the region and showcasing the innovative tech solutions being pioneered in the West Midlands. For more information, visit: https://birminghamtechweek.com/

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