Our previous feature focused on the educational foundation and framework that underpins digital skilling across our region – as well as looking at CCRs very own Venture Skills & Talent Hub, which has started its journey to provide a wide range of learning experiences for the fourth industrial age. There are of course many other digital courses and programmes being run across Southeast Wales, offering lifelong opportunities to skill, upskill or reskill for a role in the digital economy, as we discover below …
We have seen how cybersecurity is a critical component in any successful digital ecosystem – so it’s incredibly encouraging to know that CCRs schools and colleges are leading practitioners of the UK’s national NCSC CyberFirst programmes, which are designed to identify and nurture the talent of 11-17 years olds from diverse backgrounds for the ever-growing number of cyber security opportunities available.
September this year saw CyberFirst announce 11 ‘Gold’ awards for delivering excellence in cyber security education, with four of those schools and colleges – Bridgend College, Cardiff High School, Cardiff & Vale College and Coleg Gwent – all located in our region.
Four of the UK’s 11 ‘Gold’ CyberFirst providers are schools and colleges in our region
Being home to four of the UK’s eleven Gold-standard cyber schools is a phenomenal achievement in itself – and with CyberFirst offering comprehensive bursaries to financially support students through degree apprenticeship and undergraduate schemes, it bodes well for developing our region’s next generation of cyber professionals, in tandem with the sterling results being achieved in higher education, most notably at the University of South Wales (USW), which has been voted Cyber Security University of the Year 2019-2021 for its range of undergraduate and postgraduate cyber courses.
Collaboration between our educational establishments, as well as with the employers of our region, is proving a key factor in growing our skills. Cyber College Cymru, for example, is a partnership between Bridgend College, Coleg Gwent and USW (as well as big-hitting industry partners such as Admiral, Fujitsu and Thales) – creating new routes into tech careers for a new generation of digital learners.
That native appetite for co-production has also given birth to the National Digital Exploitation Centre (NDEC) in Ebbw Vale. Delivering a joint education and outreach project between the Welsh Government, the multinational tech company Thales and USW, the NDEC aims to catalyse economic regeneration and digital expansion across the region through technology and cyber support – helping meet the skill requirements of digital growth by working with schools and communities to develop outreach projects and resources, supporting people from all backgrounds into both cyber security and wider digital industries.
A wide range of digital skills development right across the region
Across the region, FE and HE offer the widest range of digital skill development – from the digital tutorial badges offered while studying at Coleg y Cymoedd, to the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project established by the Royal Academy of Engineering to deliver STEM education support – right through to the National Software Academy, part of Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics: a centre of excellence for software engineering, working closely with Welsh Government and industry on real-world projects that are helping address the shortage of skilled programming and software engineers.
The prowess of Cardiff University’s digital technology courses is well-chronicled – with industry-leading graduate and postgraduate courses in disciplines such as Artificial Intelligence and Fintech – and our region is fortunate to have two other distinguished universities in Cardiff Metropolitan and USW, both of whom enjoy global repute for their digitally based courses and programmes.
Cardiff Met has a distinct philosophy towards digital that puts ‘people at the centre’ – starting with the problem and then leveraging digital as part of the toolbox to tackle the challenge. Rather than viewing ‘digital’ as a standalone subject, Cardiff Met view it as an ‘enabler’ – bringing a cross disciplinary, problem-solving, outcomes-focused approach that develops digital skills as part of a broader solution, through their Global Academy for Health & Human Performance and Global Academy for Human Centred Design.
A digital philosophy that puts people at the centre
This human-centred approach has produced some incredible breakthroughs, including educating medical professionals in using virtual surgical planning techniques in a key area of digital – Maxillofacial Prosthetics and Surgery – as well as leading the field in UV disinfection service robotics and the treatment of Glue Ear in third world children.
Cardiff Met have also used their advanced digital skills to produce the high-profile Creative Industries Clwstrs funding app – and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that those same Creative Industries are fuelled by the digital talent nurtured at the University of South Wales under the tutelage of Tom Ware and his team at USWs Faculty of Creative Industries. Tom and his cohorts have in many ways built on the pioneering work of Allison Dowzell at Screen Alliance Wales: designing the world-class courses and producing a star-dusted stream of digital creative talent, winning dozens of Oscars, BAFTAS and Emmy awards – creating some of the most notable box-office smashes of recent years and putting Southeast Wales on the world stage as a leading global destination for Film and TV production.
It’s somehow apt to finish this feature on the magical interaction between technology and the human experience – because that is the critical dimension delivered by digitally skilled professionals working in so many industries across our region.