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East Midlands Chamber News

Bid to marry youth talent and business

The Digital Youth Academy (DYA), in partnership with O2 and Nominet Trust, has launched an innovative digital programme to bring together the ‘born digital’ generation and businesses.

The initiative was launched at and hosted by one of DYA’s College partners, LeSoCo, in London.

Research commissioned by Lloyds Banking Group identified that the low digital capability of thousands of UK SMEs and charities is a huge limitation on their growth and productivity: 36 per cent of SMEs are without a website, and over half of UK charities lack web design support.

Meanwhile, two thirds of young people can design a website, but lack the training and experience in the workplace to be able to use these skills to get a job.

The Youth Web Builders programme is designed to build a link between the two.

The programme’s main component is a nationally recognised Edexcel BTEC qualification, accredited by Pearson, titled ‘Setting up a Business Online’.

This will include a web design, building and coding eLearning course supported by work placements in UK SMEs and charities to give young people on-the-job experience to improve their employability. In the process, the participating SMEs and charities can harness young peoples’ digital talents, getting hands-on help to improve their digital capability.

The programme will be supported by O2’s youth employability platform, GoThinkBig.co.uk, alongside further education colleges and training providers.

At least 500 young people, SMEs and charities will undertake the programme over the next 12 months.

The DYA provides specialist digital content, resources and materials to educational delivery organisations. It currently works with 15 delivery partners – both further education colleges and private training providers.

The DYA was founded by Penny Power, Janette Faherty OBE, Albert Wright and Helen Richardson.

Penny Power, Founder of The Digital Youth Academy, said of the programme: “One part of the solution to youth unemployment is simple: equip young people with the skills UK businesses actually need.

"Youth Web Builders will professionalise and enhance young people’s skills, giving them the opportunity to make a difference to the businesses they work for and a skill-set that employers require”.

She continued: “UK businesses are in real need of a workforce adept in website building and social media, which is quickly becoming a vital tool for marketing and reaching their consumer base. Our innovative approach will meet the demand for UK businesses by directly addressing the skills shortage, helping them to find employment and build sustainable careers.”

Leila Walker, Director of Partnerships at Nominet Trust said of the programme: “Today we are faced with almost one million young people not in employment, education or training. In contrast, the UK job market is short of digitally skilled workers with significant numbers of UK businesses and charities in urgent need of digital support. The Youth Web Builders programme bridges this gap.

"Nominet Trust is dedicated to accelerating technology for social good. We are proud to be co-funders for the Youth Web Builders programme through our Digital Edge fund that to date has provided over £2m in grants to over 30 ventures, focused on supporting young people.”

Tracey Herald, Head of Community at O2 (Telefonica UK) said: ”O2 is delighted to be working with the Nominet Trust to co-invest in the Youth Web Builders programme. The initiative delivers huge benefits to young people, providing them with a recognised digital qualification – and critically, practical work skills and experience to support their progression. It also helps small businesses and charities to increase their digital footprint, enabling them to use technology to drive economic growth and deliver greater social impact.”