Generation UK teams up with JP Morgan and Microsoft to address Scotland's digital skills shortage

A non-profit youth employment organisation is teaming up with JP Morgan Chase Foundation and tech giant Microsoft to help address a digital skills shortage in Scotland.

Generation UK is targeting its digital skills training programme at unemployed people aged 18-29 across Scottish city regions.

The programme aims to directly tackle the digital skills shortage and equip young people with the skills to pursue careers in technology.

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The cohorts will train young people for roles in the most in-demand technology skillsets in areas including IT support, data engineering and cloud computing. With a particular focus on tech roles for women and ethnic minority groups, the programme will prioritise training for underrepresented groups across Scotland.

The cohorts will train young people for roles in the most in-demand technology skillsets in areas including IT support, data engineering and cloud computing. Picture: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Research suggests that more than 70 per cent of Scottish businesses find skills shortages are impacting their profitability, with particularly acute challenges in advanced technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics and software engineering.

The initiative is understood to be one of the first tech programmes of its kind launched across major Scottish cities and will initially target 150 learners across six different cohorts over the next 18 months, with the first starting in March.

Generation said it would be working closely with public sector bodies including Skills Development Scotland and DWP, charity and government run employability programmes and local employers to meet their needs and focus on some of the deprived areas in Scotland.

The organisation will work with The Prince’s Trust, building on a national partnership, to recruit and support learners.

Since its inception in 2019, Generation UK has worked to train young people across the UK with the necessary skills to access “life-changing careers against the odds”. The methodology combines profession-specific and practice-based training over multi-week bootcamps with ongoing mentorship to help support learners overcome barriers.

Michael Houlihan, chief executive at Generation UK, said: “By tackling the digital skills shortage across Scotland, we have a real opportunity to support meaningful and sustainable employment for many young people and bolster much-needed skilled talent to address business needs.

“Understanding the challenges that young people have faced around employment because of the pandemic is equally as important.”

Stephanie Mestrallet, head of UK programming, global philanthropy at JP Morgan Chase Foundation, said: “Building a skilled workforce and ensuring that all students have access to the support and real world experiences they need is critical to building an inclusive economy that works for all.

“Too many young people, particularly those from underrepresented communities, are entering the workforce without the skills and resources they need. Collaboration between the public and private sector is key, and Generation UK’s launch in Scotland is an example of this in action.”

Steven Grier, Scotland country manager at Microsoft UK, added: “Scotland’s recovery depends on creating a workforce that can tackle the digital skills shortage and unlock opportunity. To create that workforce, sectors must work together to create more accessible and inclusive pathways to digital careers.

“Through this partnership, not only can we fill jobs, but we can also tackle youth unemployment and bridge the digital skills divide. I’m looking forward to seeing a new pool of talent take advantage of the programme to launch exciting new tech careers in Scotland.”

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