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New £1m fund to boost UK diversity in tech and digital

The Digital Skills Innovation Fund aims to promote diversity in tech by helping women, the disabled, people from minority backgrounds or those living in lower socioeconomic areas to succeed in jobs like data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketeers

Improving diversity in tech and digital in the UK is the goal of a new £1m investment fund by the government.

The Digital Skills Innovation Fund aims to help women, the disabled, people from minority backgrounds or those living in lower socioeconomic areas to succeed in digital roles such as data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketeers.

From now until 28 October, it will be open to bids from local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and combined authorities for initiatives targeted at promoting employment opportunities to more sections of society.

Minister for Digital Margot James said: “It is crucial everyone is able to take advantage of digital technology, whether it is to learn how to use the internet or develop the skills to work in a tech role.

“If we want to maintain our position as a world-leading digital economy, we need to work with industry, local authorities and the voluntary sector to develop solutions so no-one is left behind.”

digital and tech employee diversity
Minister for digital creative industries Margot James

The need to improve diversity in tech and digital in the UK

Research reveals women possess far fewer digital qualifications than men and account for just 17% of tech jobs in Britain, while unemployed adults of both genders are 5% more likely to lack basic digital skills than the national average.

Studies haven also shown that elderly people often lack basic digital skills such as being able to book a GP appointment online and using apps to communicate with loved ones.

To solve this issue, the UK government will also launch £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund in September to help older age groups learn these skills.

Local Enterprise Partnership Network chairwoman and Digital Skills Partnership board member Christine Gaskell said: “As the rate of technological change and innovation continues, ‘tech’ is becoming increasingly integrated within every sector and industry.

“We share the aspiration to ensure that more people have the skills and creativity that will enable them to contribute to, and benefit from, new economic opportunities and deliver more inclusive growth.

“There are huge opportunities for regions to benefit and local enterprise partnerships have a vital role to play in helping people and organisations develop the skills they need to realise their potential.

“Any initiative with the aim to make more people tech-savvy and to bring more women and young people into the sector to create new start-ups and unearth the next digital superstars has to be welcomed.

“As such, we are working with government through the Digital Skills Partnership to bring together key partners at national and local level to close the digital skills gap that currently exist.”