Driving the development of digital skills across the city and region is a strategic priority for the College.
The Challenges Being Faced
The College’s Strategic Intent to become a cloud and digital-first college, maximising the use and benefits of technologies to reimagine curriculum and services has been realised through the achievement of the Google Reference College accolade in 2022; one of only eight in the UK and the first college in the South West.
The CBI identified in 2019 that we were in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation and biotechnology. Providing our communities with access to – and training in – these future skills is essential for digital equity and prosperity.
However Data from 2021 indicated that around 11 million people, (21% of the UK population) were digitally disadvantaged and lacked the essential digital skills for life. Of this, around ten million lacked fundamentals themselves. With regard to employment “11.8 million (36% of the workforce) lack essential digital skills for work” with particular shortages in retail, service industries and manufacturing and automotive.
In addition, the latest surveys on Advanced Digital Skills from Amazon/Gallop identified that only 11% of UK workers possessed advanced digital skills, 68% of businesses found it difficult to recruit the digital skills they need, and 45% of these say this is due to a shortage of qualified applicants.
These challenges, combined with a growing skills gaps, have resulted in local,regional and national plans ( Skills 4 Plymouth Plan, Heart of the South West plan to Build Back Better , Understanding current and future skills needs) all highlighting this as a priority sector. The College, already a leading Google college, is ideally positioned to meet the skills needed as a digital leader.
Our Core Focusses
In order to meet these priorities there are two core focusses over the next 12 months:
It is essential that we provide advanced digital skills to enable employers to meet the rapid challenges of new technology adoption. To do this we will deliver skills across six key areas:
- cyber security: this will include the delivery of a new BSc in Cyber Security, as well as shorter employer focussed courses (bespoke and accredited) working with key partners.
- data analytics: this will be through development of Apprenticeship provision in addition to shorter masterclass delivery and sports analytics
- artificial intelligence: this will include short courses in both understanding the possibilities and the practical implementation and leveraging of AI for business. We will look to equip our existing learners with exposure to AI in order to support skills transfer upon employment.
- networking & programming: in addition to the existing full time and higher education offers the college will develop shorter employer focussed courses (bespoke and accredited) to support both retraining and upskilling
- augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR): a new VR course to be delivered in September 2023, increase in the range of VR & AR courses both in terms of development of these and the practical use of these to train in low risk / low cost environments as an alternative to live or simulated environments