Today, Creative England and Nominet Trust announce that Northcoders and Turinglab are the first companies to receive support from the £1million iAMDigital Fund that invests in new and established SMEs working to close the digital skills gap for people currently excluded from our digital-by-default society.
Northcoders will receive £100,000 while Turinglab has secured £75,000. Both companies met iAMDigital’s criteria, which looks for scalable SMEs that aim to improve people’s employability, whilst also supporting the growth of the creative industries by increasing and diversifying the talent pool outside London.
Almost 90% of new jobs require some degree of digital ability and according to the ONS, 72% of employers wouldn’t interview a candidate without these skills. This year 745,000 additional workers are needed to meet rising demand from employers, a crisis currently costing the UK £63bn a year.
This crisis is even more acute in regions outside London, where in some instances, people are over 20% more likely to lack the understanding they need to utilise digital technology.
Mehjabeen Patrick, Chief Financial Officer for Creative England said, “We’re really excited by the impressive work that Turinglab and Northcoders are doing in this space, and we look forward to working with other companies addressing the vital issue of the digital skills gap in innovative ways”
Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust commented,
“As the charitable foundation of Nominet – an internet company delivering public benefit and trusted guardian of the .UK namespace – one of our aims is to increase the digital capability of society. Northcoders and Turinglab are inspiring examples of how we can increase digital engagement and we believe that their funding will significantly improve the life chances of those directly involved. We encourage other organisations with a social mission to apply now for the second round of the iAMDigital open call.”
The iAMDigital fund, aims to directly address the digital skills gap by providing investment and support for organisations outside London, and within England, that are using the creative industries to help create accessible pathways to digital engagement and evidence positive social impact for people of all ages.
Manchester-based Northcoders is a diverse and inclusive school with a uniquely Northern culture, that runs a 12-week coding bootcamp ‘Accelerate’, which aims to prepare people for a career in tech. The company is committed to increasing diversity in tech and in 2016 granted nine full-funded scholarships to women.
The company will use the £100k iAMDigital award to move to a new teaching environment in The Federation. The Federation is an initiative led by the Co-op group to build an open community of digital businesses and innovators in the heart of Manchester. Northcoders’ move will increase the classroom size for the Accelerate programme, give their students access to the tech employers based at The Federation and offer a more versatile space which will help expand their coding class offer.
The new city centre location will mean that school leavers, apprentices and university graduates taking part in the bootcamp are in the same area as the North’s most significant tech employers, meaning Northcoders are directly contributing to the digital economy.
Amul Batra of Northcoders commented: “Tech is one of the fastest growing sectors in the North and there is a real problem with having the appropriately skilled workforce to maintain pace with this growth. Funding businesses like ours who can provide the vital skills to willing learners quickly will only help the sector grow more quickly. The more people we can teach to code and get into tech employment, the more difference we can make to people’s lives.’
Turinglab supports children from low income backgrounds in learning to code, helping to champion diversity in tech. The company has developed project-based learning software to teach programming to children in a practical and engaging manner. Turinglab will use the £75k investment from the iAMDigital fund to help expand its programming clubs and teaching software to communities and schools across the UK.
Sam Green of Turinglab said: “We teach children through creative, practical coding projects – embodying what it means to be both creative AND digital. Too often creative practices get overlooked in favour of traditional maths and science – however creativity is a fundamental skill needed in the 21st century and must be supported with equal importance.”
In 2017, the iAMDigital programme is looking to make further investments ranging from £50,000 to £200,000, and seeks companies looking to scale-up, plus secure further investment for growth. It will measure the social impact of the ventures and identify learning to inform future strategies for increasing digital engagement amongst marginalised groups.
Visit iAMDigital website: http://www.creativeengland.co.uk/tech-and-digital/iamdigital
For more information:
0161 711 0517 / 07786 434313
firstname.lastname@example.org / @todayissundae
 Digital skills crisis: second report of Session 2016–17
 House of Commons Science and Tech Select Committee in June 2016
 Digital skills crisis: second report of Session 2016–17
 Basic Digital Skills, UK Report 2015 prepared for Go ON UK in association with Lloyds Banking Group
 This is a requirement of Creative England’s funding, which considers anything inside the M25 as London and everything else as outside London. To be eligible for support, an organisation’s registered office can be in London provided the beneficiaries and significant operations of the company are outside of London.