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Tech hub for students plan

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A TECHNOLOGY hub for degree-level students is being considered as part of plans to fill jobs in the digital sector with home-grown talent, the head of Digital Jersey has said.

The Digital Jersey Hub in Grenville Street.

Tony Moretta, Digital Jersey chief executive, said that the current standard of tech-based education in the Island is below the required standard to meet industry needs but added that he is confident that the deficiency is being addressed.

His comments come after an online poll of 1,000 children aged between 11 and 17 who attend a state-funded school in England revealed that almost a third say they know more about technology than their teacher, while more than two thirds believe that have not had the opportunity to discuss a new technology or app idea with a teacher.

Mr Moretta said Jersey’s Education Department has been working to boost technology standards in schools and for undergraduate students.

‘We have problems here getting enough skilled people for the industry,’ he said. ‘It takes time for education to kick in. If we want to get to a point where we can fill roles in the industry with home-grown talent we have to have people coming out of the education system with those skills. That understandably takes time.

‘Do I think we have been doing enough? No – we need to do more. Do I believe that it is going to improve? Yes.

‘Rod Bryans [Education Minster], Justin Donovan [Chief Education Officer] and their team have been very supportive. There has been good investment by schools to bring in good-quality IT teachers.’

An Education skills strategy is due to be released later this year, setting key policy priorities. Mr Moretta said that he has been ‘working closely’ with the department on the digital aspects.

Mr Moretta added that digital coding courses for adults – run from the Digital Jersey hub – have been popular with typically 60 to 70 applicants for a 16-person course. He said that this proved that there is a desire for people to re-train in digital sector roles.

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‘I feel very strongly that we need a wider range of technology degree subjects that people can take on Island,’ he added. ‘We have an Education Department that understands that and is looking at what it can do to help very seriously.

‘I’m very confident that when the skills strategy is published it will prioritise digital skills.’

Mr Moretta said that an ‘institute of technology’ which would provide degree courses was one option to increase the level of skills in the Island adding that ‘some of the very early work has been done’.

‘We want to be able to justify the creation of an institute of technology, similar to the Jersey International Business School,’ he said. ‘Jersey should be teaching technology-related subjects at degree level.

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‘You can do an accountancy degree here or a law degree – we want the same for digital. We have a requirement for those skills and if we can get people coming out with a degree then that is going to boost the industry.

‘Highlands already do some courses, so whether it is a case of expanding what is on offer there or doing something else is what we need to be looking at.

‘Wouldn’t it be great if people came here, got a degree here and settled here and could contribute and fill some of those roles?’

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