Aiming to address the Scottish skills gap in digital leaning, a new educational course – the Digital Pilot’s Licence – will not only upskill the country’s workforce but also enlighten participants on the impact of climate change.
FOR too many years, research has shown we have too few people learning the digital and data skills that are essential for future socio-economic progress. This paucity of relevant, focused digital learning is especially prevalent at school (and even university) level, and particularly amongst girls and women, but is also endemic throughout the private and the public sectors.
This has been noted by Allison Carrington, Regional Skills Planning Lead at Skills Development Scotland (SDS) for the north east, and working with partners to deliver the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF), who said: “It’s vital that more people have the opportunity to learn the skills they need to move into these new exciting roles. Not only will this help people as they deal with a rapidly changing jobs market, but it will help firms who increasingly need digital and data skills for growth and innovation.”
With the urgent need to make good this gap in digital learning capability, online educators Jump Digital have carried out global research which shows huge demand for highly focused, practitioner-led digital and data education with employability, up-skilling and re-skilling at its core. More specifically, this study showed a consistent set of ‘wants’ from both the public and private sectors, with consensus around a number of key areas.
First and foremost was that employees should have a clear understanding of the importance of Digital and Data, especially in relation to the emerging technologies driving future growth. Secondly, there was a burgeoning interest in the importance of sustainability within business – in particular the need to make employees more aware of climate issues.
Associated with this was a desire to build a safe, sound workforce with good mental health and wellbeing at its heart. Finally, flexible working was the other area where employers recognised that change was coming.
In short, employers told Jump Digital they wanted a joined-up approach that succinctly explains the twin impacts of emerging digital tech and environmental/ climate concerns on business resilience and helps us all, as individuals, to navigate the employment market where new technologies, especially AI and robotics, are radically transforming previous models of work.
Underpinning this was a demand for digital education packaged in online modules that are in turn engaging and enlightening. Consequently, in January 2020, with support and guidance from Scottish Qualification Authority and Skills Development Scotland, Jump and their partners QA Training began to test a series of pilot programmes across all sectors and demographics.
Delivered fully online, the Digital Pilot’s Licence (DPL) course comprises five accelerator programmes: Digital Marketplace, Driving Value from Data, Climate Solutions, Business Blockchain and Wellbeing. The range of topics and the style of learning (self-paced with available tutor support) have been developed to blend into an exciting learning solution. All participants gain a qualification at Level 7 on the Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework – same SCQF level as an HNC.
The course centres on employability, with Derek Houston, Regional Manager at the Scottish Qualifications Authority, saying: “The course comprises of SQA units and tailored modules, including the Climate Change Accelerator, which give learners the opportunity to develop new skills and understanding of the digital landscape that can help them make the successful transition into a new career.”
David Hannah, Head of Delivery Apprenticeships QA Ltd, said: “There is real potential in many sectors for the Digital Pilot’s Licence and its associated learning modules. It is highly relevant and cleverly designed to support professional development.”
Mike Robinson, Chief Executive, Royal Scottish Geographical Society also welcomes the DPL, noting: “Understanding climate solutions should be core knowledge for all in business and public life, so it is fitting that it appears as an integral programme within the Digital Pilot’s Licence.
“Sitting alongside the potential of Digital and Data, this represents essential knowledge for the future of work and society.”
Jump Digital Co-Founder Alex Clyne believes the programme offers a valuable opportunity to help people from any walk of life to learn and develop new skills that can help launch long-term careers. First though, he acknowledged the assistance of all the partners who have helped make it happen.
He said: “Jump couldn’t have done this without the Data Lab, RSGS, QA, SDS and SQA. We’re proud and excited about the role the Digital Pilot’s Licence will play in transforming people’s lives in our country – it is the first of its kind in the world and will help individuals to learn key skills which they will be able to use throughout their careers.”
The Digital Pilot Licence is currently being offered to people across the North East of Scotland, via funding from the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund, who are, in turn, benefiting from a £14.3 million investment by the Scottish Government.
Recent course participant Colin Black, who is Managing Director of Carjon-NRG.com, was equally enthusiastic about endorsing the programme.
He said: “This is a great course delivered by a great team and I highly recommend it. In particular, I enjoyed the way it highlights key climate challenges through the Climate Solutions Accelerator module and identifies things we can all do to reduce our emissions and carbon footprint in our business and personal lives as we strive to achieve Net Zero.”
The initial success of the programme has seen an additional 40 fully-funded places added, available immediately to those living in Aberdeenshire.
This article was first published by The Herald on 4th February 2022, republished here with permission.