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Training the 10,000 - skills plan supports growing tech sector

New plan will bring business and education closer together

A plan to meet the skills demands of the Digital Tech sector in the East has been officially signed.

The Digital Tech Skills Plan has been developed by the Digital Tech sector in Norfolk and Suffolk, working alongside the New Anglia Skills Board and supported by SkillsReach.

The 2017 TechNation Report highlights that the Digital Economy is growing twice as fast as the wider economy. The report lists Ipswich and Norwich as tech clusters with high growth potential, with a combined GVA of £328m, employing more than 17,500 people and with more than 200 new start-up businesses since 2011.

There is also increasing demand for specialist skills from our largest private, public and third sector organisations. An estimated 10,000 tech roles - both new and replacement of existing positions - will be needed in Suffolk and Norfolk by 2024.

The Digital Tech Skills Plan, one of the first regional tech skills plans in the UK, provides the start of a roadmap to meet this challenge.  The plan has three core themes:  

  • Tech skills development must be strongly led by employers in partnership with universities, colleges, schools and education policymakers.
  • We must be innovative in opening up alternative pathways to careers beyond the current norm of an undergraduate degree plus experience - from apprenticeships to internships through self-managed e-learning there are many options open for those seeking to expand their skills and education.
  • Upskilling and reskilling our current workforce represents a huge opportunity in a generation where one job or career for life is no longer the expectation or desire of many people.

TechEast, as the lead Digital Tech employer group for New Anglia, will take forward  delivery of the plan on behalf of the sector it represents. It will act as convenor to assemble a new Digital Tech Skills Taskforce with representatives of businesses of all sizes, universities, further education colleges, schools and skills innovators to advance the plan over the coming year. The New Anglia Skills Board places employers at the centre of decision making on skills in Norfolk and Suffolk to ensure the skills system becomes more responsive to the needs of employers, and the future economy.

Paul Winter, Chairman of New Anglia LEP’s Skills Board, said: “Digital Tech is among the fastest growing sectors in the East’s economy and is justifiably one of the priority sectors in the new Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Strategy. But it’s also one of the fastest moving. That’s why this Skills Plan is so important. It puts businesses at the leading edge of the industry right at the heart of the process, helping to keep our skills offer relevant and helping our region take advantage of future innovations and opportunities.”

Neil Miles, Chair of TechEast, said: “I see this plan as the first key step to enabling local collaboration to ensure business growth and skills opportunities are maximised. We look forward to businesses and education providers coming even closer together to shape the future of a vibrant regional tech economy in the East of England.”

Sue Wilcock