Digital Digital skills

CASE STUDY: UA92 Digital Upskill Programme

UA92 will be delivering their Digital Upskill Programme from 2021. Intrinsic to the design of this seven month programme is ensuring the learning aligns with what employers need but also designing training that provides opportunities for individuals who have been affected by COVID-19 and may be unemployed or  looking to switch from a declining sector into digital.

UA2 Digital Upskill Programme (external website, opens in new tab)

UA92 started developing this innovative programme before the pandemic and had already identified Software Development as a key skills gap from both employers and wider organisations such as MIDAS. UA92 wanted to target groups who might not be able to engage with traditional University programmes. COVID-19 has only increased the need for a programme like this which can support and redeploy talent from declining sectors and offer holistic support which puts individuals in the best possible position for future employment in this growing sector.

The programme is seven months long with learners achieving a Certificate of Higher Education in Software Development awarded by Lancaster University (Level 4 qualification equivalent to first year of the UA92 Computer Science degree). It is designed to support individuals who may have never coded before with recruitment based around recognising individuals with the right aptitude, values, work ethic and tenacity rather than existing technical skill.

The programme is truly employer led at every stage of development. UA92 have a strategic relationship with Microsoft including sharing campus space. Microsoft have been committed to developing talent to fill their own skills gap, but most importantly for the benefit of the sector regionally. Course content has been based on Microsoft’s own research into the 10 different Software Developer pathways and they have been key in communicating the wider non-technical skills needed for employees to be able to succeed. These have then been embedded in UA92s offer.

The Digital Upskill Programme has an employer placement element and UA92 have worked hard to engage businesses of all types recognising that their learners need visualisation of different types of work settings to understand where they personally would most be happy in employment. In turn this supports talent development for SMEs and the public sector who are too often left competing for talent with bigger employers who can offer more.  

The block delivery structure of the Digital Upskill programme will focus on coding and be delivered either 9am-1pm or 2-6pm for the duration of the programme, supporting learners who may need to work or have other commitments. During the 7 months there will be a 12 hours per week of employer placement to ensure the course includes real life work experience. A key part of the offer is the character and personal development programme which allows learners to develop key aptitudes and mindsets which employers have advised are key for a career to progress successfully. Part of this is that each learner is allocated a personal development coach to ensure individuals can use their experiences in this part of the course to articulate where they have shown these important skills and therefore supporting the development of individual portfolios.

The holistic approach also includes a £2,000 grant for learners to support living expenses for those who are keen to commit to the seven-month programme who may not otherwise be able to take part. UA92 are keen to welcome candidates of all ages and backgrounds stressing the correct attitude and raw aptitude is most important.

"We wanted to turn traditional university education on its head and create a real opportunity to change the prospects of people in our region through providing an opportunity to benefit from our rich digital economy.  Absolutely at the heart of this is ensuring everything we deliver to learners is what employers need now and giving learners the best foundations to thrive and progress within industry." Marnie Millard


Article Published: 01/02/2021 15:40 PM