25-04-19
Industry Analysis

New digital skills funding for Suffolk & Norfolk

Written By
Andy Bristow

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (New Anglia LEP) has announced that digital skills projects across Norfolk and Suffolk will collectively receive £14.5 million in funding, as part of its new economic strategy for both regions.

The news comes after the release of the Digital Tech Skills Plan in 2017, which forecast a large shortage of skilled workers in the next ten years within the digital and tech industries. The plan, which was developed by the Norfolk and Suffolk digital tech sector (in partnership with the New Anglia LEP, the New Anglia Skills Board and SkillsReach), outlined proposals to ensure local skills infrastructures across the East of England support the need for over 10,000 highly-skilled and qualified digital and tech graduates and entrepreneurs.

This funding announcement, therefore, marks a significant milestone for digital skills in the East, with the introduction of the digital skills strategy set to see the creation of three new digital skills centres across Norfolk and Suffolk, aimed at boosting skills, innovation and productivity. The strategy is also set to inspire almost 500 new students to enter the relevant industries, and marks a massive step forward for New Anglia LEP’s wider economic strategy for both regions; part of its £290 million growth deal with the government that aims to create around 55,000 jobs, 6,800 new homes and generate over £628 million in public and private investment.

Where is the Digital Skills Funding Going?

The University of Suffolk has received £6.49 million alone in funding from the strategy, which will allow it to establish a significant research and training centre. The centre, which will be based in Ipswich, will aim to combine high-quality academic capabilities with world-leading industrial research and development, and will enable students and organisations to effectively collaborate to secure the future of the industries.

Both Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils will also be receiving £440,000 to enhance a tech innovation network across both regions; enabling private, public and educational sector organisations and the public to explore and implement Internet of Things (IoT) technology; creating 74 new jobs and 40 new products as a result.

Other projects in Norfolk and Suffolk that will receive funding are:

  • City College Norwich’s Digi-Tech Factory (£6.1 million)
  • Suffolk New College’s Digital & Technology Skills Hub (£1.6 million)

The Immediate Demand for Digital Skills

In an environment with a limited supply of qualified candidates, the market inevitably shifts towards the use of highly-skilled contract resource to deliver vital work. Here at Bristow Holland, we have seen a significant uplift in demand for resource over the last quarter. Web and application development skills in particular are high in demand, which is why we have tripled the level of dedicated resource allocated to this sector. Development has long been our most successful market, but the challenges of recruiting in this space are becoming more acute by the month, and as a result new techniques and innovative methods are being deployed to help our clients.

Our hope is that, aside from creating new employment opportunities, New Anglia LEP’s strategy will lead to a more consistent supply of digitally-skilled individuals entering the workforce who are able to assist with the region's economic growth. While the fruits of this new investment probably won’t be realised for several years – which doesn’t help companies who need digital skills immediately – it’s undoubtedly an encouraging step, and one that is sure to be welcomed by numerous businesses in the region.

Bristow Holland connect businesses and individuals across East Anglia within the digital and IT sectors. To find out how we can support you, contact us today to speak to a member of our team about their specific specialism.