Microsoft is backing a new £17m ($21m) apprenticeship hub in the Midlands area of England to address concerns that the area is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to digital skills.
The project in Stoke-on-Trent is being led by Staffordshire University, with the support of local public sector bodies and Microsoft, which will provide equipment and expertise for the facility.
The hub has laid out plans to create more than 6,500 apprenticeships over the next decade, with an opening date slated for 2020.
Chris Perkins, Microsoft’s public sector lead, said: “We believe it is important that the UK continues to provide varied routes into digital careers. “Through our Microsoft Digital Skills Programme, we’re committed to helping everyone in the UK take a step up in their digital skills and prepare for the jobs of the future.”
Last year Microsoft launched its own skills program, which plans to create 30,000 new apprenticeships by 2020.
According to recent figures, the number of people with basic digital skills in the Midlands is below England’s national average.
Staffordshire University’s vice chancellor Liz Barnes said: “There is a clear and pressing need to develop high-level skills for young people in our area, and we are delighted to have secured [funding] for our project which provides a blueprint for higher education.
“We are growing our learning community and connecting with our employers to develop digitally enabled apprentices who will positively impact on the region’s capabilities.”
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