from across Lancashire boosting their digital know-how.

Developing digital skills in Lancashire

Teachers and students from across Lancashire have been boosting their digital know-how, as part of a project to bridge the skills gaps in the sector.

To mark their achievements, the group of 150 people were recognised at a special graduation event at County Hall.

The Digital Advantage project has been developed by working with industry leaders from trade association Digital Lancashire, as well as Creative Lancashire, in collaboration with the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub. It is funded by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The aim is to help students improve their digital skills, knowledge and experience.

Industry trainers take the students through a programme to develop a prototype digital business, and then pitch it to an industry panel.

The students developed the skills needed in the digital sector – web design, software development, marketing, social media, mobile technology and e-commerce; together with the communication skills and confidence to get one of the hundreds of apprentice positions being created across Lancashire.

Ten schools and colleges from across the county took part in the pilot, with nearly 170 participants – Blackburn College, Blackpool Sixth Form College, Burnley College, Haslingden High School, Lancaster & Morecambe College, Nelson & Colne College, Preston’s College, Runshaw College, Wellfield High School in Leyland, and West Lancashire College.

The winners of this year’s Digital Advantage were the team from West Lancs College, who received £2,000 to support them to turn their prototype into a business. Their app Connectavent was the unanimous choice from the industry judging panel, although many of the other entries attracted great praise and are likely to be developed further.

Digital Advantage trainer Simon Calderbank said: “The app created by West Lancs College, ConnectAvent, is a brilliant concept that we all knew stood a great chance of landing first prize.

“It’s built on a solid platform of research and analysis, with a robust business model to boot. The product was designed for festival-goers and music lovers, and I’m excited about the future partnership options available to the team. This is an incredibly talented and tenacious bunch.”

The college were supported by online ticket agency Skiddle, who are looking to help the students take their idea to market.

The project has obviously gone down well at the college.

Their lecturer Anjuman Robinson said: “Digital Advantage has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to develop their personal skills, while working collaboratively as part of a dynamic team.

“Digital Advantage has provided a simulation of a real world agency that gives the students an invaluable experience of working on a creative digital technology project.

“Winning the £2,000 prize has given other students a real sense of self belief to achieve something great themselves. We are all tremendously proud of our students and the emergence of robust employability skills, which will help them to secure a prosperous future career.”

Creative Lancashire is a service provided by Lancashire County Council through its economic development company – Lancashire County Developments Ltd (LCDL). They support creative and digital businesses and work with all sectors to realise creative potential.

Michael Gibson, chairman of Digital Lancashire and board member of Creative Lancashire, said: “The digital sector is all about collaborative working, creative thinking and driving through innovation and change. The Digital Advantage programme encapsulated this method of working perfectly.

“It opened the eyes of students, who typically work in school individually to understand the impact of effective team working, see how new workplace tools, such as websites, apps and cloud-based software, can transform businesses, and ready them for a new workplace.

“To see so many young people from Lancashire inspired by the Digital Advantage programme shows what can be done to excite, challenge and ready the workforce of tomorrow.”

Lisa Moizer from the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub said: “The digital sector is a priority for Lancashire, and we commissioned this project in response to feedback from Lancashire employers in the digital sector, who want a pipeline of local talented people with the skills and knowledge in this type of creative and innovative work.

“Sustainable skills and employment are vital to drive prosperity. To ensure this happens, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has created the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub.

“This strategic team supports the Skills and Employment Board, driving a balanced, skilled and inclusive labour market, which underpins and contributes to economic wellbeing and growth across the county.”

For more information, visit www.creativelancashire.organd

Find out more on twitter – @CreativeLancs and @LancsSkillsHub

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