The nine General Further Education Colleges in Greater Manchester have shared progress on their digital programme to help tackle challenges, create opportunities and ensure the sector’s continued success across the city-region.

GM Colleges, which includes Trafford & Stockport College Group, was awarded £8.4 million from the Government’s Local Skills Improvement Fund earlier this year to address skills gaps in Greater Manchester, with the digital sector a key area of focus of the colleges’ plans.

The consortium of local colleges is now developing its digital project with the following aims:

  • Supporting more learners to develop digital skills
  • Creating short courses to allow the city-region’s workforce to upskill and reskill in key areas, such as AI, cybersecurity, VR and robotics
  • Promoting tech careers, particularly in more deprived neighbourhoods
  • Developing college staff to use new technologies in teaching

So far, government funds are supporting staff CPD events in partnership with Manchester Digital and Cisco, while capital funding has allowed access to 50 Cisco Bundles, 6 new Cisco learning facilities, 6 new Cisco Networking Academies, 100 laptops, over 90 raspberry pies, 4 robotics and Microsoft Office Specialist training software licenses for up to 125 learners.

Mark Harris, Vice Dean and Vice Principal of UCEN Manchester, one of the nine colleges making up GMColleges, commented,

“It has been amazing to see the collaboration from across the colleges and partners to bring this project to life. Collectively, we are all focused on serving our communities by delivering a strong higher technical offer that will help develop the talent pipeline required to meet the increasing demand for digital skills across Greater Manchester.

“We will focus on creating agile and responsive digital courses and curriculums influenced by industry and the big tech employers of the future. Key to achieving this will be developing courses that extend beyond the classroom, providing students with the chance to apply skills in real world professional settings. This will ensure that students are ready to access the economic opportunities that the digital industry has to offer upon completion of their studies.”