Date: 21 Oct 2020
Belfast City Region employers are being invited to get on board with a new initiative, designed to help graduates achieve industry relevant qualifications and gain work experience within the growing digital sector.
Developed by Belfast Region City Deal partners, funded by the Department for the Economy as part of the Skills Intervention Programme, and delivered by a number of FE Colleges across the region, Digital Futures will support 55 graduates over the next six months, giving them opportunities to explore career pathways in Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and Cyber Security.
Belfast Lord Mayor, Alderman Frank McCoubrey explained: “Digital Futures was developed by the Belfast Region City Deal partners, working closely with government and industry to deliver a rapid response to the economic impact of the pandemic. Our Digital and IT sectors are thriving despite current challenges – so it’s imperative that we continue to support this high value, high growth sector of our economy and take every opportunity to help our young people find employment.
“I’d encourage employers who can provide work placements to sign up right away – it’s an excellent, no cost opportunity to get the region’s best young brains working with your company.”
Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “I am keenly aware of the impact Covid-19 has had on the employment of so many people across a wide range of sectors. That is why I announced 3,000 funded online training places to be delivered by the colleges and universities, representing an investment of £4.6million. The Digital Futures element, to be led by Belfast Met in conjunction with three other local FE colleges, will give people the opportunity to upskill and reskill, enabling them to pursue a career in the vibrant and growing local IT sector.
“Developing the skills of our people right across Northern Ireland is a key priority for me as we begin the process of rebuilding our economy. This investment builds on my previous announcement in June of £1.7million for online training places and I am determined to keep skills at the centre of our long term strategic plans.
“I urge employers to sign up and avail of the skills boost to their business.”
Digital Futures participants will undertake intensive virtual training to gain qualifications, followed by a 10-week placement in industry from 1 February 2021, at no cost to the employer, allowing them to apply their newly developed skills and knowledge in the workplace. Participants will receive a £150 weekly training allowance for the duration of the programme, as well as financial assistance for travel, accommodation and childcare where needed.
Belfast Met Chief Executive, Louise Warde Hunter, said: “It is encouraging in the midst of the current crisis that the Colleges, led by Belfast Met working as the Digital ICT Hub for the FE Sector, have been able to develop this innovative graduate employability programme funded by the Department for the Economy.”
Caroline Murdoch, HR Development Manager with B-Secur, one of the first companies to sign up to provide work placements, said: “For us, getting on board with Digital Futures was a really simple decision to make. Our company is expanding and we’re regularly in search of high quality, highly skilled employees who are going to contribute to our growth. By offering Digital Futures work placements, we’ll get access to the best of current graduates, who will have the most up to date, globally recognised qualifications in areas that are essential to our core business.”
The Belfast Region City Deal, the first of its kind for NI, will deliver a transformational £850 million investment programme over the next decade, helping the city region recover more quickly from challenges posed by Covid-19 through investment in innovation and digital, tourism and regeneration, infrastructure and employability and skills.
Businesses willing to offer one or more work placement opportunities in Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, or Cyber Security should email BRCD@belfastcity.gov.uk.
Find out more about the Belfast Region City Deal at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/belfastregioncitydeal