Blackpool students compete for digital future

Students at Blackpool Sixth Form taking part in Digital Advantage.
Students at Blackpool Sixth Form taking part in Digital Advantage.
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Students at Blackpool Sixth Form are the latest to take part in a pilot project to train young people in cutting-edge digital skills.

Digital Advantage aims to fuel growth in the county’s multi-million pound creative economy by tackling the digital skills gap.

It offers around 200 young people in 12 Lancashire colleges the kind of skills rarely taught in schools and colleges but are highly-prized by local employers.

The pioneering initiative encourages students to compete for a £2,000 prize by developing an actual digital product or service .

It started at Blackpool Sixth Form College on March 17 with three more sessions due.

Employers and industry experts from across the creative and digital sector in Lancashire are lending their support though masterclasses, mentoring, sponsorship and to offer the Digital Advantage graduates job interviews for new apprentice positions.

Among them are Anne Williamson, of Preston-based Lucrative Marketing, and Dom Williams, of Lancaster’s Fat Media.

The ground-breaking initiative is a Pop-Up Digital Agency delivered by Manchester’s The White Room and supported by Digital Lancashire. It offers 16 to 18- year-olds 24 hours of work experience and training in specialist, practical digital skills with a further 24 hours of guided support.

Participants get help to develop and plan their own digital business start-up which, they will pitch to an industry panel, with the best winning the funds to start up a business.

The creative economy in Lancashire – which is dominated by digital, creative, software and computer science businesses - employees 36,000 people and is worth £1.3bn in GVA.

Yet 57 per cent of fast-growing businesses in a recent survey said they struggled to find technically capable staff.

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is investing in addressing this digital skills gap.

Lisa Moizer, the LEP’s skills and employment hub manager, said: “There is huge growth potential in the sector. The pace of technological change makes it difficult for schools and colleges to keep up-to-date, so there aren’t enough people leaving education with the digital skills employers need.

“Young people already taking part in Digital Advantage are enjoying it immensely and learning a huge amount. All we need now, is more industry leaders prepared to pass on their knowledge and offer interviews to the graduates of Digital Advantage.”

See also: Resort benefit from £6m training deal