A new £300,000 investment from BAE Systems will help up to 7,500 young people in Lancashire with digital skills.
Working in collaboration with Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Create Education and InnovateHer, the new programmes aim to inspire young people about digital and tech careers to help build Lancashire's future digital workforce.
The programmes will provide online education, 3D printers and practical training for 70 schools located across the region.
Research undertaken by the LEP shows 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. Recognising the gender gap in the UK’s technology industry, InnovateHer is committed to addressing the disproportionate number of female and non-binary students who go on to choose a career in STEM.
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.”
Building stronger collaboration between private and public sectors will strengthen Lancashire's local digital capital, supporting the region to recover from the impact of COVID-19 and build a future talent pipeline as recommended in the techUK research 'Building the Future We Need'.
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.
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.