The official charity of Everton Football Club has launched a community digital skills lab in Merseyside with the aim of equipping children with the technology skills for the jobs of tomorrow.
Everton in Community will house the digital skills lab at its People’s Hub. The lab contains equipment to educate young people on robotics, virtual reality, computer programming, digital literacy, and more.
“The launch of the Digital Skills Lab is a huge step for the E-STEAM programme which will make a positive difference to the lives of children within the Liverpool City Region,” said Sue Gregory, CEO of Everton in the Community.
“As we move towards the fourth industrial revolution, we are working with our partners to ensure young people in Merseyside are in the best possible positions for their futures and we’re extremely proud of just how much is on offer here.
The lab was backed by the STEM education group CreativeHUT and received funding from a group of philanthropists referred to as the First Steam Squad.
Jimmy Worrall, founder of Leaders in Sport and part of the First Steam Squad, described the launch as the “perfect opportunity for us all to come together and witness first-hand the importance of creating areas such as this for children where they can learn, play and develop new skills”.
He added: “We’re incredibly proud to play a part in the delivery of the lab which we hope will inspire children to go on to pursue careers in digital and STEAM which they previously might not have considered.”
UK digital skills gap
The UK has a long-standing digital skills gap that means businesses are unable to find enough workers with suitable skillsets.
A survey in October from AND Digital found that 81% of UK bosses said the digital skills gap is hurting their business. Separate research by STEM Learning shows that there is a shortfall of over 173,000 workers with required digital skills.
Initiatives to equip children or reskill adults with digital know-how have become a popular approach to filling the shortfall.
Digital skills bootcamps, in which local businesses partner to build interview opportunities into the programmes, have proven a successful model. The West Midland Combined Authority, for example, provides free courses for adults aged 19 and over who are either in work or recently unemployed. The bootcamps, which typically last for anything between 12 and 16 weeks, give people the opportunity to build sector-specific skills.
This year also saw the launch of the Fearless Academy in Manchester, which is seeking to increase the level of cyber education in the UK.
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