Generation UK partners with JP Morgan and Microsoft to address Scotland’s digital skills shortage


YOUTH employment non-profit Generation has announced it will launch a new digital skills training programme for unemployed people aged 18-29 across Scottish city regions to tackle the digital skills crisis in the area with support from the JP Morgan Chase Charitable Foundation and Microsoft.

With unemployment for 16–24-year-olds in Scotland affecting nearly 42,000 people, the project sees the two philanthropic bodies work together towards a joint goal of empowering young people from underrepresented communities into future-proof, stable employment. 

The programme will directly tackle the digital skills shortage within the region and equip young people with the skills to pursue careers in technology. The cohorts will train young people for roles in the highest demand technology skillsets in the area including IT Support, data engineering, and cloud computing. Particularly facilitating access to tech roles for women and ethnic minority groups,  the programme will prioritise training for underrepresented groups across Scotland. 

Research suggests that over 70% of Scottish businesses find skills shortages are impacting their profitability, with particularly acute challenges in advanced technologies like cloud computing, data analytics, and software engineering. The training will specifically provide a diverse, pre-trained entry level talent pipeline for leading digital employers in the area, including Version 1 in Edinburgh who provide transformative IT solutions for global brands that drive significant, sustained customer success.

The initiative will be one of the first tech programmes of its kind launched across both major Scottish cities and will initially target 150 learners across 6 different cohorts over the next 18 months , with the first starting in March 2022. 

Generation will work closely with public sector bodies including Skills Development Scotland and DWP, charity and government run employability programmes and local employers to meet their needs and focus on some of the deprived areas in Scotland. Currently, youth unemployment in Glasgow sits at 9%, with 29% of the city’s population residing in 10% of the most deprived areas in Scotland. As the pandemic has disproportionately affected employment amongst young people in Scotland, particularly those that are from Black or Asian backgrounds, the programme hopes to address these issues and will run as a set of multi-week full time training bootcamps for young people without degrees, that are facing barriers to employment. 

Michael Houlihan, CEO at Generation UK, said: “By tackling the digital skills shortage across Scotland, we have a real opportunity to support meaningful and sustainable employment for many young people and bolster much-needed skilled talent to address business needs. Understanding the challenges that young people have faced around employment because of the pandemic is equally as important.”

“We are particularly interested in reaching hard to reach communities and those from underrepresented backgrounds that may have long felt forgotten, to give them a real opportunity to enter a sector that is thriving and looking for talent to support its growth. We are delighted to be supported by JP Morgan, Microsoft and local employers to train talent with the skills to fill the jobs that require digital skills across Scotland.”

Michael Strogan, practice manager, Version1 said:”Version 1 is already a happy partner of Generation in other parts of the UK and Ireland.  As a consultancy that prides itself on our excellent service and 98% customer retention rate, we are always looking for the very best in junior staff. The bootcamp graduates that we have hired to date from Generation have exceeded our expectations both in terms of technical and soft skills, and Generation’s commitment to training, developing, and progressing young people from diverse backgrounds into digital roles align with our values. We welcome their exciting expansion into Scotland.”

Stephanie Mestrallet, Head of UK Programming – Global Philanthropy at JP Morgan Chase Foundation, said:

“Building a skilled workforce and ensuring that all students have access to the support and real-world experiences they need is critical to building an inclusive economy that works for all. Too many young people, particularly those from underrepresented communities, are entering the workforce without the skills and resources they need. Collaboration between the public and private sector is key, and Generation UK’s launch in Scotland is an example of this in action.”

Steven Grier, Scotland Country Manager at Microsoft UK, said 

“Scotland’s recovery depends on creating a workforce that can tackle the digital skills shortage and unlock opportunity.  To create that workforce, sectors must work together to create more accessible and inclusive pathways to digital careers. 

Partnerships with organisations like Generation are vital in opening the playing field for people who are often disadvantaged because of their background. Through this partnership, not only can we fill jobs, but we can also tackle youth unemployment and bridge the digital skills divide. I’m looking forward to seeing a new pool of talent take advantage of the programme to launch exciting new tech careers in Scotland.”

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