Today, Creative England and Nominet Trust announce the launch of the £1million iAMDigital Fund, which will support new and established SMEs working to close the digital skills gap for young people currently excluded from our digital-by-default society.
The new fund has been devised to provide investment and support to organisations outside London, and within England, who are utilising the creative industries to help create accessible pathways to digital engagement and evidence positive social impact.
The aim of iAMDigital is two-fold, working to improve the life chances of young people, by increasing their employability, whilst also supporting the growth of the creative industries by increasing and diversifying the talent pool outside London.
iAMDigital specifically addresses the digital skills gap identified by the House of Commons Science and Tech Select Committee in June, which found that the UK will need 745,000 additional workers with digital skills to meet rising demand from employers by 2017, equating to a crisis that is costing the UK £63bn a year.
Half a million 16-24 year olds lack basic IT skills, in a working culture that sees digital skill as a necessity, with almost 90% of new jobs requiring some degree of ability. According to the ONS, 72% of employers wouldn’t interview a candidate without these skills. This digital skills 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.
iAMDigital will identify and invest in scaleable SMEs, with investments ranging from £50,000 to £200,000, assisting in building their business capacity and ability to win contracts and 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.
This is an exciting partnership between Creative England and Nominet Trust. It brings together Creative England’s expertise and understanding of creative ecosystems and Nominet Trust’s detailed understanding of digital engagement and social impact. The partnership will enable the programme to identify and unearth innovative models for ensuring that the benefits of the digital economy are available to all young people.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said: "It's vital everyone in the UK has the digital skills to succeed in a modern economy, create a society that works for all and help keep us competitive in a fast-changing world.
"This fund will help young people outside the capital get the skills they need to thrive. And, following our commitment to provide basic digital skills training to adults in England who need it, is another boost as we aim to equip the whole country with the tools for modern life."
Mehjabeen Patrick CFO of Creative England quote: “iAMDigital is looking to invest in creative and talented early stage or established social businesses, with a strong dedication to social impact. We’re particularly interested in companies with growth potential, ambitious and experienced management teams, and a scalable digital proposition.
“Some of these social enterprises may come through Nominet Trust’s existing Social Tech Seed fund, or Creative England’s existing investment portfolio, but we’re extremely excited to identify and develop new businesses as part of the programme.”
Edward Evans, Strategy and Partnerships Director, Nominet Trust: “As the corporate foundation of Nominet, the registry for all .uk domain names, we’re acutely aware of the UK’s digital skills gap and how this impacts on individuals and businesses.
Together Nominet and the Trust are committed to addressing this gap and the new iAMDigital Fund provides a fantastic opportunity to utilise the energy of the creative industries to improve the digital skills and employment prospects of young people. We’re delighted to be partnering with Creative England on this fund and are looking forward to identifying innovative models for boosting digital engagement.”
Applications are now open, with a deadline of 7th November 2016 for initial expression of interest and 1st December 2016 for full application.
- Funding for Businesses