Lancashire pupils to get a £300,000 boost to their digital skills, thanks to a new initiative
Schools across Lancashire are set to get a digital skills boost thanks to a £300,000 investment from BAE Systems.
The company has teamed up with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Create Education and InnovateHer, to create a new programme to inspire young people about digital and tech careers and therefore help build Lancashire's future digital workforce.
The money will provide online education, 3D printers for additive manufacturing and practical training and more than 70 high schools have been approached via the Lancashire Careers Hub to participate in the projects, including schools in Blackpool, Blackburn, Darwen and Preston.
BAE Systems estimates that up to 7,500 young people in Lancashire will benefit from programmes designed to enhance their digital skills.
Research undertaken by the LEP shows that there is a demand from employers for digital and tech skills which is projected to increase significantly over the coming years across all sectors.
The research also reveals that fewer than one in six of the Lancashire digital workforce is female and that the sector is solely made up of employees aged 25 and over.
The programmes will seek to inspire young people aged 12 – 16, with InnovateHer focusing on female and non-binary students to highlight the breadth of digital and tech career opportunities available to them.
CREATE Education will bring cutting edge technologies into an educational setting, providing the resources and training to empower 100 teachers to deliver classes in 3D printing – a new skillset for many students.
The first 3D printer was handed over to Patricia Berry, Careers Leader at Parklands High School at a launch event at CREATE Education’s facility in Chorley.
Jenny Manning, Additive Manufacturing Lead in BAE Systems’ Air Sector, said: “The long-term impact of the pandemic on young people is far reaching and as a large employer in Lancashire, we have a role to play in inspiring future generations about the multiple pathways into technology and engineering professions, particularly as these skills become increasingly important as we work towards a greener and more sustainable economy.
"This funding is part of the company’s long-term commitment to deliver high value training, support and careers that are accessible to young people from diverse backgrounds in the region.”
Debbie Francis, chairman of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with BAE Systems, CREATE Education and InnovateHer to work together through the Lancashire Careers Hub with schools to inspire young people about the plethora of digital and tech careers currently in demand and forecast to grow in Lancashire.
"Together, we are committed to building our future digital and tech workforce which will accelerate industrial digitalisation and support the drive towards a net zero economy across the area."
Paul Croft, founder and director at CREATE Education, said they were excited to be involved in the programme to put young people at the forefront and provide schools with the resources and training they need.
He said: "Our mission is to share innovation through 3D printing with everyone and this programme will bring new technologies, open-source thinking and collaboration to make innovation and digital creativity accessible to the young people across Lancashire and help promote positive exit routes and careers within the industry.”
Chelsea Slater, CEO, InnovateHer, said: “It means that thousands of local girls will be inspired and equipped with the skills and confidence that they need to consider careers in tech.
“With just 17 per cent of the tech workforce being female in the UK, we know that it’s really important to work with young people to address this imbalance."
The launch of the projects coincides with Lancashire Innovation Week, which acts as a virtual showcase of some of Lancashire’s latest innovations in a series of web-based events.
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