The two things that we have got involved in as part of the North East Combined Authority Digital Leads Group are connectivity and digital skills. The former has developed into a full blown pitch for a substantial amount of money to create a massive 5G test bed across the region. Keep your fingers crossed.
The second area has taken a little longer to get off the ground. Probably the 5G work has overshadowed it. Digital skills are suffering from sibling rivalry, but not for much longer. At the last meeting of the group we gave more time and therefore attention to looking at the issue.
Skills in any discipline is a complex matter with so many contributing factors. Each of us in the seven different authorities had tried various initiatives to get more people into tech and to raise the digital skills of the overall populace. Some had worked and some hadn’t. Some were new to the rest of us while many had tried similar things. This is where Gren, from South Tyneside, came in with a plan to try and map all these activities. A sub group hat met to talk over what could be done and felt that this would be a great place to start.
He drew on the white board how we were engaged in activities across the primary, secondary and further education sectors, while for those outside of formal learning we have activities to help people get into work and others to help people use technology better. We talked about the role of parents and governors. It all made perfect sense.
By mapping all these initiatives, we would be able to see what works best and in what circumstances. This would enable us to focus our resources more effectively and so, hopefully, achieve better outcomes. So that is what the group has started to do.
Gren’s drawing made all the difference. It turned an abstract and intangible problem into something that we could all visualise and get behind. I am looking forward to the outcome of their work.