Leeds helps Institute of Coding launch £4.8 million digital skills drive


The University of Leeds has partnered with the Institute of Coding and FutureLearn to create new online courses to support the next generation of digital talent.

As part of the government’s efforts to drive digital skills through its Industrial Strategy, the Institute of Coding (IoC) has announced an extra £4.8m to help tackle the UK’s digital skills gap.

A consortium led by the University of Leeds has secured £500,000 to launch a new programme called The IoC guide to kick starting your career with 21C skills

The online courses – delivered through digital education platform FutureLearn – are designed to focus on digital employability skills for people in the 18-25 age group and will be available later this year.

Carol Elston, Head of Leeds’ Digital Education Service, said: “We know recruiters have identified certain gaps in digital skills, so we’re designing these short online courses to meet the needs of employers.

“This investment will support a more diverse workforce and means learners from different backgrounds, particularly groups who are under-represented or disadvantaged, will all have the chance to improve knowledge of digital technologies and skills.”

The University and FutureLearn are working with key partners, including #techmums and UKBlackTech, to ensure the courses are relevant and engage under-represented learners.

It is hoped the courses could also prove attractive to busy mid-career professionals who want a flexible, accessible way of learning.

Professor Neil Morris, Dean of Digital Education at Leeds, said: “These courses provide a flexible way of learning new digital skills, drawing on the expertise of the University. It is this flexibility that sits at the heart of our digital education approach, offering new opportunities to learn in creative ways, at a pace that suits different people.”

Chris Millward is the Director for Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students, which contributed £2.4m towards the IoC initiative.

He said: “Digital skills are vital for the economy, now and in the future, which is why we are backing this important initiative to boost equality and diversity in STEM education, develop the workforce that employers will need to meet future digital challenges, and open up the jobs of the future to graduates from all backgrounds.” 

The new Institute of Coding courses are part of the University’s on-going commitment to widen access to higher education by offering a flexible and inclusive education.

Alongside the University’s online courses, which have already reached over 1.2 million globally, the University has launched a fully-funded technology undergraduate degree apprenticeship in computer science, through a partnership with global professional services firm PWC.

That four year BSc course has been designed to help address the UK’s technology skills gap and improve the industry’s diversity. It follows research by PWC in 2017, which found that 67% of UK chief executives found it difficult to recruit people with digital skills.

Additional research by the firm found that only 27% of women A-level and university students would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of men.

  • The IoC guide to kick starting your career with 21C skills will include 15 short courses, which will be available from November 2019.

Further information

For interviews, contact University of Leeds press office on pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

The Institute of Coding (IoC), a consortium of universities and employers, was created by Government last year, with a mission to develop the next generation of digital talent at degree level and above. https://instituteofcoding.org/