Clare Barclay, HRH The Princess Royal, Naomi Hulston

Catch22 and Microsoft expand Digital Edge programme to support underserved individuals in the North of England

Following on from its initial success, the Digital Edge programme, designed by Catch22 and Microsoft is expanding to support more underserved and underrepresented people build skills and confidence. A new grant from Microsoft will enable the programme to expand in the Northeast of England and the Manchester-Yorkshire corridor.

By providing access to training, skills and career support, more people from all backgrounds can gain digital capabilities and get into technology careers. The programme has now supported 100 people to secure jobs in digital and tech roles including Digital Marketer, Data Analyst, Support Technician and Games Designer.

At an event to celebrate the achievements of the Digital Edge programme, Catch22 and Microsoft also announced the winners of the Digital Edge Awards.

HRH The Princess Royal is the patron of Catch22 and attended the event to speak with Digital Edge participants, present the awards and learn more about the programme.

Clare Barclay, UK CEO, Microsoft said, “The changing pace of technology creates amazing opportunities, but it does not always create them equally. Thanks to our partnership with Catch22 and the support of its patron HRH The Princess Royal, we have been able to make important progress on closing this digital divide. The Digital Edge programme is about opening up careers to bring everyone forward, no matter their background. It has had such an impact empowering underserved communities into tech careers that we are expanding the programme to the North-East of England and the Manchester-Yorkshire corridor to support an additional 1,100 individuals.”

Catch22 is a not-for-profit business with a social mission. For over 200 years it has designed and delivered services that build resilience and aspiration in people and communities.

Naomi Hulston, Catch22 CEO, said, “We are absolutely committed here at Catch22 to making sure that everyone – no matter what their background, their educational attainment or their challenges – has the opportunity to secure a good quality job. The Digital Edge programme is playing a big part in this; skilling up people to enter a sector that provides a huge array of roles and that is growing rapidly.”

Three years ago, Microsoft entered into a strategic partnership with Catch22. The partnership is at the heart of both the UK business’ social impact commitments and it’s Get On campaign. The Get On campaign committed to help 1.5m people in the UK to build careers in technology by 2025. Microsoft has already supported 900,000 individuals in their careers.

Soraya Scott, COO, Microsoft UK, said, “It was an honour to be at the Microsoft UK and Catch22 Digital Edge event with HRH The Princess Royal. Events like these are a great opportunity to see the impact our partnerships can have in helping people kickstart a career in technology.”

HRH The Princess Royal speaking at event

Digital Edge award winners:

Commitment to Success Award, for an individual who has shown resilience throughout the programme and has achieved their goals – Winner: Kristina Major.

The Inspire Award, for the person who has shown a growth mindset, and inspired both the Catch22 team as well as all people on the programme. Winner: Anvay Pandya

Ambassador of the Year award – for the person that has shown commitment to support others in the programme, following being the first participant. He is now a data analyst at a college. Winner: Leon Wilson

Employer of the Year – for the employer that has supported so many people to gain skills and employment outcomes, including hiring two people from the programme. Winner: Mozzington.

100th Job award – this very special award is in recognition of the now 100 people who have graduated from Digital Edge and secured full time employment in roles across Data Analysis, Games Design and Support Technician.