Salford Fast Track Digital Data AcademyAn image of Katie smiling to the camera

The Fast Track Digital Data Academy, launched in October last year, is funded by the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), and is being delivered by the University of Salford. A consortium of major employers in the region have helped to design the course’s content, including Bupa and Salford City Council as lead employers, and TalkTalk and the BBC as employer partners.

Katie Dwyer, of Salford, applied for the Fast Track Digital Data Academy after taking voluntary redundancy from her job as a Customer Experience Manager in retail. She is now developing skills in data analysis and hopes to secure a job as a Business Analyst upon completing the course in March.

Katie said: “What the course does really well is provide realistic expectations of what an employer would want. They make it tangible and advise how to adapt your skills into whatever career you choose, so these skills can be transferred into whatever area of data you want to work in.

“Another big positive is everyone gets a personal mentor who works for a company like Bupa or TalkTalk. Most of the learners haven’t had a career in data, so a mentor can help with things like identifying goals, CV writing and interview tips.”

Bupa, which employs more than 2,000 people in Salford, is contributing to the programme to put value back into the community while also addressing an important skills gap.

Wayne Close, General Manager for Health Services at Bupa, said: “As an employer, if we identify talent gaps within our business, and have a conversation with universities and skills providers, we can then develop courses which are as relevant as possible to our current business needs. A great example of that is the Digital Data Academy.

“Because of the nature and speed of economic change, you’re not going to be educated for a career that goes on until you retire. You’re going to have to retrain, and further and higher education is going to have to change to support that, and employers will need to be involved.”

Lynne Mccadden, Project Manager at the University of Salford, has described the process as a positive learning curve for the university employers and learners alike. The input of employers in designing the course, providing mentors and offering masterclasses to students has been “invaluable”.

She added: “Designing a 20-week course for a completely unique cohort of learners has been very fulfilling for the university, while for employers it has opened up new partnerships with a learning provider that they’ve never worked with before.

“This type of course has been designed by industry and therefore provides up-to-the-minute skills needed in today’s workplace. Going forward the strength demonstrated by a consortium of Salford industries, coupled with higher education, has built a strong platform for future collaboration and is a significant and extremely positive outcome of this initiative.”

 


Article Published: 24/02/2021 13:16 PM