Our CCR Digital Series has already shown how digital is revolutionising our priority sectors, transforming our public sector, opening up new R&D horizons – and powering data-driven services that underpin the whole economy of Southeast Wales.
But as the pace of automation and digitisation seemingly outstrips the supply of digital skills in the UK as a whole, can CCR nurture the human talent with the right competencies for this 4.0 world?
Creating a workforce that has the digital skills, capability and confidence to excel in the workplace and in everyday life
With our capital city now acknowledged as one of the fastest-growing digital hubs in Europe – and our whole region becoming internationally recognised powerhouses for digitally enabled sectors such as Compound Semiconductors, the Creative Industries, Cybersecurity, Fintech and MedTech – stakeholders from across the CCR ecosystem are increasingly asking: “Are we producing sufficient skills to sustain the digital industry in our region?”
The answer to that question is being provided across our region every day, through a fast-evolving digital curriculum being implemented in our schools, FE colleges and universities – as well as through pioneering skills programmes and workplace projects geared to making sure that CCR has a workforce with the digital skills, capability and confidence to excel in both the workplace and in everyday life.
Building a strong skills foundation for a sustainable digital economy
Our schools offer the biggest opportunity to bridge the digital divide in all its forms – providing a platform to deliver the skills, sustained economic performance and social equity that’s at the heart of CCR’s commitment to inclusive prosperity. The need and opportunity to build that foundation is huge, with the first ever Digital Connectivity index published in October by Oxford Analytica (using OECD datapoints) showing that the Cardiff Capital Region stands to gain a £896 million economic boost by 2026, with consistently higher GDP growth rates (0.88%) thereafter, if sufficient investment is made in digital connectivity and skills.
Giving digital the same emphasis as literacy and numeracy
With transformative economic growth capable of creating tens of thousands of new jobs and a fairer society at stake, the learning of digital skills in primary and secondary education is at the core of our future talent provision: and Welsh Government’s Digital Competence Framework is already helping young people across Southeast Wales become enterprising, creative and critical thinkers by emphasising the importance of digital from an early age, setting out how digital competence is integrated across the curriculum – and, crucially, giving digital the same emphasis as literacy and numeracy.
Similarly, the Digital 2030 Framework articulates a shared vision for post-16 digital learning in Wales, scoping the digital support required for the whole learner journey, recognising that the combined elements of leadership, business processes, security and infrastructure need to be in place for effective digital delivery.
A foundation built in schools and a framework for life-long digital skills learning
As the Brown Review concluded in 2019, with over 80% of the 2030 workforce having left compulsory education, CCR will be a region of lifelong learning, with our working population continually adapting their skills to the future needs of the economy and the strengthening of public service delivery. Digital skills will be the engine of this, with everyone in our region – regardless of age, background, gender and ethnicity – becoming ‘digitally included’ through basic digital skills that can be developed into more advanced and employable skills, able to adapt as our increasingly digitised economy and society shapes and reshapes.
Since 2020, CCR has been evolving a strategic response to this ongoing need and opportunity to skill, reskill and continually upskill our population in essential digital competencies – and that region-wide skilling evolution can be found in our Future Ready Skills Framework …
Taking the lead in Future Ready Skills
CCR’s ‘Future Ready’ Skills Framework recognises that although the school’s curriculum will help everybody to develop digital skills at the earliest possible opportunity, everyone’s skills and confidence will also need to evolve with the pace and scale of technology change.
Working on the findings and recommendations of Nesta (the world-acknowledged Future of Skills experts who have produced seminal blueprints in both the UK and USA), our Future Ready Skills Framework is evolving to leverage the potential and impacts of CCR’s investments and programmes – working towards creating an inclusive and entrepreneurial ‘future-oriented’ system for jobs and skills, through a framework built on eight pillars that include connecting learners and employers, developing a CCR-wide Shared Apprenticeship Scheme with learner pathways into our priority sectors; and delivering real-time employment market information to understand where any skills shortages will occur.
CCR will be a region of lifelong digital skilling
Closely aligned with our Regional Skills Partnership strategy, our Future Ready Skills Framework has seen us establish the CCR Venture Skills & Talent Hub. This major new destination for skills development in our region already features a revamped Graduate Programme working closely with employers to expertly match graduates to employment opportunities, as well as being home to the ground-breaking INFUSE Public Sector skills programmes (aimed at accelerating decarbonisation and developing supportive communities) which includes a Data Lab to support employees in collecting, managing, analysing and understanding how to use data in decision-making.
Venture’s growing range of programmes also includes our unique Cyber Masters Programme: an advanced cyber security programme developed by Cardiff University in partnership with PwC, focused on preparing best-in-class employment-ready cyber security professionals – with CCR funding 15 places that will build a valuable talent pipeline for one of our most successful priority sectors.