Birmingham City and Coventry Universities lead consortium handed £20 million to tackle digital skills gap

The next generation of digital specialists will be created through the new Institute of Coding, a consortium of more than 60 universities, businesses and industry experts set to receive £20 million to tackle the UK’s digital skills gap.

Four West Midlands universities are among the 25 Higher Education institutions involved in the project, which is being led by the University of Bath, with Aston University, Birmingham City University, Coventry University and the University of Birmingham all signed up.

The consortium is formed of businesses including IBM, Cisco, BT and Microsoft, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 25 universities, and professional bodies such as the British Computer Society and CREST.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

A world-class pipeline of digital skills are essential to the UK’s ability to shape our future. By working together, universities, employers and industry leaders can help graduates build the right skills, in fields from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to industrial design.

“The Institute of Coding will play a central role in this. Employers will have a tangible input to the curriculum, working hand-in-hand with universities to develop specialist skills in areas where they are needed most. As we have outlined in the Industrial Strategy, this is part of our ambition to embrace technological change and give us a more competitive edge in the future.”

The Prime Minister also spoke about the £10 million investment in free and subsidised training courses to help adults retrain and learn new skills. coding-news-131614332731741119

Launched as part of the Industrial Strategy, the pilot programmes, located in Leeds, Devon and Somerset, Lincolnshire, Stoke-on-Trent and the West Midlands, will test how to reach out and support people with the cost of retraining.  The Government has also invested £30million to test the use of artificial intelligence and edtech in online digital skills courses.

Professor Andrew Aftelak, Head of School for Computing and Digital Technology at Birmingham City University, said:

We are delighted that the Prime Minister has announced funding for the Institute of Coding which will help create a new generation of skilled workers fit to lead the ever-evolving industries that will shape the UK economy in the future. It is great to see so many universities from the region involved in this project which demonstrates the importance West Midlands and the fact that it remains at the forefront of new industries and the UK economy centuries after it was at the heart of the industrial revolution.

The award follows a nationwide competition, run by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), to improve the way universities train people for digital careers.

The government’s £20 million investment will be matched by a further £20 million from industry, including in-kind contributions such as training and equipment.