When Digital You began, data showed that 24% of Salford residents lacked the essential digital skills many of us take for granted, and are necessary to access core services online and benefit from the internet. It also showed that overwhelmingly, these residents are more likely to face other barriers in their lives, including poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. The programme was commissioned to address this critical issue and help many more Salford residents become part of the digital world.
Since then, up to the end of May 2020, Digital You has supported 6,500 Salford residents in the city’s most disadvantaged areas to engage with digital technology and build their confidence and skills. In doing so, it has driven both social and economic benefits for the city.
The Coronavirus pandemic has cruelly exposed the digital divide in this country, and the urgency of addressing ‘digital social exclusion’ in our communities. As a result of Covid-19, digital has instantly become a universal need. People with no or low digital skills and a lack of access to devices and connectivity, especially those who are shielding, are locked out of accessing essential services such as Universal Credit, buying essential goods, accessing health services and staying in touch with family and friends. Their plight is distressing and unacceptable, and needs urgent attention.
Social Impact is at the heart of the Salford Digital Strategy. The Digital You network is a vital asset for Salford to deliver this Social Impact. It enables us to reach those who are least likely to take up formal digital training opportunities; who are currently least likely to be able to benefit from the digital transformation of Salford’s economy; and who are most in need of digital services, including government services (local and central).
The Digital You Network has a key role to play in ensuring that local people in low income areas develop the digital confidence and skills to share in the benefits of this new way of organising the local economy. It is crucial that the increased job opportunities and innovative tech that are being developed as part of the Smart City agenda and the Salford Innovation Triangle, can benefit as many of our residents as possible, especially those living in low income communities.
#Digital Salford Tech Talent Pipeline Partnership
The singular importance and challenge of digital skills is now a firm priority regionally and nationally. Initiatives have come from central government departments, the GMCA, agencies in the voluntary and community sector, commercially and voluntarily via industry, training providers and colleges. This is much needed and the core partners in Salford are already delivering a significant digital skills volume between them to thousands of people.
In order to build on and support this agenda, #Digital Salford will take a strategic lead locally by creating a Tech Talent Pipeline - a coordinated long-term innovative network that is greater than the sum of its parts and that can enable Salford learners to develop digital skills and progress to be matched through to employers. Our work complements and supports the tremendous work already in train across the region coordinated by GMCA, GM LEP and other regional organisations.
The Tech Talent Pipeline partnership is a key element of our Digital Strategy ensuring that Digital Skills development for Salford people can be realised. You can download the Tech Talent Pipeline Partnership Prospectus here.