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Nominet has launched a £400,000 digital skills programme designed to give young adults from underprivileged backgrounds work experience.
The programme, Nominet Digital Neighbourhood, will aim to train people aged between 18 and 24 in creative digital skills such as social media, search engine optimisation and Google AdWords.
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After the three-day course, the first of which was in Brixton, attendees are partnered with a local small business for a two-week paid placement, where they can use the skills they have learnt in line with what the SME needs.
Russell Haworth, CEO at Nominet, said the programme is “a bit like reinventing apprenticeships” to suit the digital needs of the economy.
“We want to play our part in helping to fill the UK’s digital skills gap,” he said. “By training young local talent and connecting them with real businesses in their area who need support with their online endeavours, both are able to develop and prosper. By offering paid work placements and training expenses to the young people, we think the programme goes the extra mile towards valuing the candidates’ time and commitment and ensures that the training is relevant and accessible.”
The UK’s digital skills gap remains wide, and the government estimates that the lack of digital skills is costing the UK economy about £63bn a year.
Some skills gaps may even widen if UK firms continue to be reluctant to recruit millennials.
Nominet’s Digital Neighbourhood scheme aims to reach 175 young people in its first year, and has partnered creative network Livity to run sessions in London, Cardiff, Leeds and Glasgow between July and November 2017.
By partnering trained young people with local small businesses who lack these skills, the programme aims to help SMEs to utilise newly skilled young people to take advantage of digital opportunities.
Many firms claim graduates are leaving education without the skills needed to fill empty digital or technical roles, and many require previous experience, which students and graduates find it hard to obtain. The Nominet Digital Neighbourhood programme hopes to tackle this problem.
One student who took part in the programme’s pilot said she would tell other people about it, and Richard Clements, founder of Clear Cut Solutions, the small business she was paired with, said the increased social media presence implemented by the student had increased his firm’s revenue.
Earlier this year, Nominet partnered with The Prince’s Trust to launch Prince’s Trust Online to help reach more vulnerable young people. Nominet is also the founding partner of the Micro:bit Foundation, which helps young people to acquire digital skills.