Manchester Metropolitan University will be leading the charge to train the North West’s future digital workforce as part of the new £40 million national Institute of Coding.
Launched on January 25 by Prime Minister Theresa May at the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos, the Institute of Coding (IoC) brings together universities, large corporations, SMEs and industry groups to tackle the shortfall in the digital sector – the digital skills gap.
The University will spearhead the development of the IoC locally, backed by a £3m portion of the overall £40m funding, and deliver industry-focused education in strategically important areas: data science, artificial intelligence and cyber security.
According to the IPPR North, the region has the biggest digital skills gap across the North.
The IoC is aligned to Manchester Metropolitan’s vision to make the North West a leader in ‘industrial digitalisation’ by transforming traditional manufacturing into a bespoke industry capable of tailor-made products at the click of a button.
The aim is to ensure graduates are equipped for tomorrow’s digital challenges so the UK remains a world leader in computer science, cyber security, software development and data analysis.
Funding will develop new undergraduate and postgraduate courses, attract new staffing talent to the University, encourage more women into the sector, address challenges experienced by mature students and students from ethnic minorities, create new pathways to transfer knowledge to industry and inspire a new generation of tech leaders through community outreach.
Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “The North West has a proud tradition as a place of innovation and a cradle of the original Industrial Revolution.
“We want to make sure it remains at the cutting edge of technological developments, aided by our education provision. Here at Manchester Metropolitan, we are ideally placed to deliver the greatest possible impact; engaging with employers through our existing networks and delivering industry-relevant education.
“The IoC is a logical solution to the digital skills gap conundrum and it will mean that our graduates remain ready for the modern digital workplace, while North West firms will have the skills they need to continue the region’s rich history in technological innovation.”
The University will build upon its existing structures, such as the Degree Apprenticeship in Digital and Technology Solutions and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) – working with outside businesses to build and develop new products.
Manchester Metropolitan was one of the first in the country to introduce Degree Apprenticeships and already has partnerships with leading employers such as AstraZeneca, BAE Systems, Thales and the BBC.
Additionally, it offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Computer Science, Computer Forensics and Security, Software Engineering, Computer Games Technology, and Computer Animation and Visual Effects, among others.
Dr Darren Dancey, Acting Head of the School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology at Manchester Metropolitan, added: “A skills gap in digital has been identified by a number of government reports. At Manchester Metropolitan, we are at the vanguard in creating productive and multifaceted partnerships in the digital and technology sectors, as demonstrated by our KTP partnerships and sector-leading Degree Apprenticeships, to address the skills gap.
“We stand at the start of a new industrial revolution, a revolution in industrial digitalisation. Digital technology will infuse all parts of industry, from manufacturing to the service sector. We want the North West’s companies and our graduates to be ready to excel in this future.”
Half of the funding for the IoC comes from government, via the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and the other half is matched by partners.
Professor Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “The benefits to students from the Institute of Coding are clear: exciting courses designed to meet the needs of employers; exposure to leading research; and increased work experience to support the development of their employability skills and transition to work.
“I am delighted that the Institute also aims to encourage more women into the digital sector.”
The University will receive half of the funding from HEFCE and will match the other half. Development of the IoC at Manchester Metropolitan runs over four years.
Nationally, more than 20 universities and employer networks are involved with the consortium, which is led by the University of Bath.