Fiscal stimulus and upskilling for your future

Rory Steel, head of the Digital Jersey Academy, explains how the organisation is helping to bridge the skills gap in Jersey and why Islanders should investigate the free courses it is offering

Rory Steel (picture supplied by Digital Jersey)  (30801175)
Rory Steel (picture supplied by Digital Jersey) (30801175)

Digital Jersey has been supporting the expansion of digital training in the Island since 2014, when the first coding programme was set up to bridge the skills gap.

Since then, the organisation has carried out surveys and consultations with employers to find out exactly what kind of employees and skills they need, and has run a wide range of courses to help prepare those who want to upskill and retrain for the future.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Digital Jersey is one of the partners supporting the government’s retraining initiatives as part of the fiscal stimulus fund projects, announced in April, to help the Island recover from the pandemic.

The organisation is offering free digital skills courses for the next year to anyone who wants to upskill.

Don’t we have enough coders by now?

Tom Hacquoil, managing director of The Infuse Group, established the coding programme in 2014 with Digital Jersey to produce a sustainable entry-level talent pipeline for local digital industries.

We do still need more coding talent, but the critical point is that digital skills are much more than just coding. Along with our flagship Digital Leadership programme, we already offer digital marketing, artificial intelligence and data science courses, but for the next year that list is being expanded to include short courses in areas within: media production, web development, design, digital transformation, and cyber security. These will all be offered free to those who want to upskill.

Do we really need more digital skills?

In short, the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’. Jersey is actually behind not just London, but also comparable regions like Brighton in terms of the adoption of technology, with less digital capability across all sectors.

We know what’s needed because last year, as part of our Digital Skills Strategy, we teamed up with Geek Talent, a data-driven consultancy that provides real-time insights into the UK jobs and skills landscape.

That report helped us to identify the key skills and areas of the economy which are most in need of upskilling and retraining.

The results of that survey, the largest ever undertaken into Jersey’s current labour market, were critical in order to inform the kind of training that the fiscal-stimulus fund is now supporting. Without clear data, well-intentioned policies can fail to close skills gaps and, ultimately, company profits, individual career prospects, and government tax revenue all suffer. By looking at employer and industry needs and comparing them to over 6,000 CVs to ascertain demand and supply, we have been able to develop courses that address the specific skills gaps that exist in Jersey.

As a result, all the courses offered by Digital Jersey develop skills that both employers and the economic evidence shows us are needed to speed up the Island’s economic recovery.

We want to help produce business-ready employees with practical skills and have identified those courses which can provide the quickest impact for the economy. These include: data analytics, artificial intelligence, digital marketing, coding and digital media.

How does Digital Jersey deliver training?

The Digital Jersey Academy was opened in the autumn of 2019. Prior to this we ran courses out of the DJ Hub. The fiscal-stimulus fund will now enable us to provide additional subjects and classes.

Most of the courses will be face to face with a blend of day, evening and weekend times in order to provide as much flexibility as possible, although there will also be some online training.

The funding also means that these courses are free to Islanders. There are no barriers to gaining increased digital skills.

Who does the training?

We use industry experts to deliver our training, ensuring a close correlation between real-world employment and the courses. Daniel Rowles, the founding director of our Digital Leadership programme, is the chief executive of Target Internet, a leading online digital marketing training platform.

He is also a lecturer at Imperial College and Cranfield School of Management; and spent 20 years working client side and within a digital agency environment.

Matt Chatterley is the chief executive of Codentia, a software development consultancy, and is the lead trainer on our coding programme. His decades of experience in the digital industry are invaluable to ensuring that the skills our students gain are workplace ready.

Other tutors have decades of experience working in media production for companies including HBO, BBC, and Netflix. As well as tutors specialising in design and technology with experience working with Vodafone and Film4, to local companies including Visit Jersey and FeelUnique.

How can I retrain/upskill?

Book now to avoid disappointment, as these courses are only available for free for the next year. Visit digital.je/courses, where you can submit an application of interest.

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