Digital Skills for the Unemployed CLOSED


This call seeks proposals to provide digital skills training to unemployed and inactive individuals to upskill and reskill them and provide a pipeline of people with digital business skills which will lead to improved business efficiencies and enhanced productivity.

Digital skills are becoming increasingly essential to be successful in today’s labour market.

The success of the D2N2 strategic economic plan over the next decade will depend on the extent to which we are able to respond to the major technological and social trends that will drive future growth. Linked with the ‘grand challenges’ identified in the UK Industrial Strategy, two drivers of change stand out to be addressed by this call:

  1. The impact of digital enabling technologies and the ‘data revolution’, not just on specific products, production processes and skills, but on whole business models: over time, businesses will become ‘digital businesses’, even if their origins or core products long pre-date digital technology. We are only just starting to see the possibilities presented by artificial intelligence as increasing data volumes increase the range and sophistication of tasks that can be carried out without human interaction

  2. Demographic change associated with the ageing population. Looking ahead to 2030, we can expect our working-age population to grow only very slightly (the numbers of those aged between 16 and 65 will rise by just 1% between 2014 and 2039) so there won’t be a lot of new labour coming into the economy. We can also expect the jobs of tomorrow to look a lot different – as digitalisation and automation gather pace – requiring a different skill set. If we’re to become a more efficient and internationally competitive economy and, at the same time maintain a high level of employment (and minimise unemployment), we need to find ways to produce much more output with the labour we have and ensure everyone can compete in the digital economy.

There is a recognition that young people entering the global market over the next 10 years are the first generation of ‘digital natives’ – people who have grown up with digital technology and are comfortable using it for all manner of everyday tasks; it will be the older workers who will need to adapt and re-skill to remain competitive in the labour market. This call will prioritise those who are currently unemployed and inactive in the labour market to gain vital ICT skills to become competitive in the labour market and contribute to a productive, high growth economy.

Support for re-skilling (particularly in relation to advanced digital skills) is highlighted as a priority within the Industrial Strategy, through the introduction of the National Retraining Scheme, and within the proposals contained within the Made Smarter industrial digitalisation review. This call will seek to ensure that those currently unemployed or inactive and employers are supported to adapt to new technologies, processes and working practices and employers have ready access to the skills support that they need.

The Made Smarter review of industrial digitalisation highlights that the relatively slow rate of technology adoption within UK businesses is acting as a brake on productivity improvements. More businesses need to adopt and adapt to innovation or be over-whelmed by it. In D2N2 we lag behind the UK on some measures of innovation performance, particularly product innovation.

Digital skills are becoming increasingly essential for being successful in the labour market. However, there is a digital divide where up to 12.6 million of the adult UK population lack basic digital skills. An estimated 5.8 million people have never used the internet at all. This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP, as evidenced in the Digital skills crisis report, House of Commons, June 2016.

The rise of digitisation and automation may affect places differently, with the Centre for Cities estimated that Mansfield and Ashfield collectively is the ‘city’ with the highest share of jobs in occupations likely to shrink by 2030 through automation and digitisation with 29.4% of roles affected, compared to around 21% in Nottingham and Derby and 20.2% in Great Britain as a whole.

Enabling businesses to exploit the opportunities from digitalisation will be a key component of this call, building on our successful D2N2 Digital Growth Programme. We need to exchange knowledge and best practice more widely within the D2N2 economy.

Employers are also beginning to experience real recruitment challenges across the D2N2 LEP Area. According to the latest Quarterly Economic Survey undertaken by the East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) employers are experiencing difficulties in recruiting at all skills levels. Skilled manual/technical positions are the hardest to fill posts across D2N2. Without the skills to utilise digital technologies, businesses will increasingly struggle to remain competitive.

Expected changes as digitalisation in the labour market increases, and the reality that replacement demand outstrips new entrants into the market, means those already in the potential workforce will need the skills, resilience and guidance to make numerous changes during their working lives. The acquisition of business-related digital skills will be an essential element of careers management support being available to people of all ages, both in and out of work

The growth of digitalisation and automation will see not just change the way in which jobs are delivered, but also the demand for particular occupations. Jobs growth will be in higher skilled occupations, with those requiring low skill levels most at risk.

For more information, download the call specification.

Workshops took place in May to support organisations wishing to apply.  Visit the workshop post-event page.

Closing date is July 18th 2019.

Investment Priority

Priority Axis 1.1: Access to employment for job seekers and inactive people

ESF investment

Approximately £ 1,132,973 of ESF is available.

Applications to this call should cover the entire D2N2 area.



Link to call documentation

For more information, download the call specification.

Call-specific strategic documents

ESF Operational Programme 2014-2020

D2N2 ESIF Strategy

Digital Skills Strategic Overview

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