Three new digital skills initiatives have launched this week as a part of a £2m investment by the West of England Combined Authority‘s Recovery Funding. 

Projects led by NextGen Skills Academy, Bath Spa University and the University of West of England (UWE) will be delivered with help from Bristol-based games developer Opposable Games with recruitment starting next month.

Agile “Bootcamp” style training is set to support over 200 residents into employment in areas of gaming software, digital marketing, data science, AI and User Experience. 

The need for digital skills is increasing across the region with the highest number of job vacancies remaining in the areas of software development, a trend that has been consistent throughout COVID. Before the pandemic, the region had 22,200 jobs in the Digital sector which is 7% above the national average and digital as an industry has remained a resilient sector throughout the pandemic with significant growth reported in specific areas. 

Metro Mayor, Dan Norris who has pledged to secure good jobs and training for the region says, “There is increasing demand for skilled workers in our digital businesses that are struggling to find the talent they need. These courses delivered in the region will help to train more people for our growing businesses and have been designed to attract people that perhaps haven’t previously thought about a career in this area.”

Digital Marketing Bootcamp

Bath Spa will be leading 5 digital marketing bootcamps alongside Bath Digital Festival, Bath College, the Institute of Coding and us at TechSPARK.

There are slots for 80 participants who are looking to upskill and reskill into digital marketing. This course is specifically designed to create a pathway to employment, with a focus on employability skills, applied project work and targeted digital marketing skills with active employer involvement.

This will take the shape of networking events, mock interviews, business pitching panels and employment mentoring, guidance and advice.

NextGen Future Unity and Unreal Bootcamp

NextGen is teaming up with Opposable Games and TechSPARK to deliver a bootcamp specifically around skills needed for the gaming industry.

Ben Trewhella, Managing Director of Opposable Games, says, “The games industry is already the largest entertainment industry in the world by revenue and employment, is absolutely booming, and is only just getting started. 

“Now engineering companies are incorporating games technology in their products and processes, and there is a fresh wave of startups securing investment based on exciting new applications for games technology. 

“Much of this has been happening behind the scenes in the WECA area, with companies including Ndemic Creations, Auroch Digital, Virti, Ground Shatter, Lofi Games, Opposable Games, Condense Reality, Kadiem, UltraLeap, and startups based in the Bristol Games Hub seeing significant revenue growth and investment.  

“However, there is a dire skills shortage in tools like Unity and Unreal, with local companies now employing international staff as we have hit the limits in the region. Learning to program games technology is engaging and incremental, with immediate feedback, and unlocks high paying careers in a progressive and exciting field, in both games and wider engineering / technology fields.  

“We are very proud to be working with an ambitious group of employers, and look forward to helping a new generation of tech workers find careers they can be passionate about.” 

The Unity and Unreal bootcamp will be taking on a cohort of 25 to 30 and is set to begin training in September.

They will be working with the Bristol Games Hub and employers across the South West. 

Inclusive Digital Bootcamp

Delivered by UWE alongside CFMS, NCC, West of England Centre for Inclusive Living and Weston College, this bootcamp is set to train 100 people in UX Design, Data Science and Cloud Computing.

Demand for data scientists and AI skills have tripled in the last 5 years across all sectors. Meanwhile, 30% of vacancies in the South West are down to a lack of digital skills. 

UWE’s bootcamp is designed to be both inclusive and targeted, aiming to have a big uptake from women, young people and disabled people. 

As well as focussing on digital skills, the program will equip participants with the essential soft skills needed for employment and progression.

A key part of the programme will be signposting the learners to additional support within the region which helps them to complete and progress from the training. 

Recruitment for all Bootcamps starts this month with bootcamps running until March 2022. Later this year further funding will be released as part of WECAs Digital Skills Investment Programme to continue to address problems in talent pipelines in collaboration with employers.