Andy Street Mayor of West Midlands and Zephaniah Chukwudum

Microsoft and West Midlands Combined Authority commit to closing the skills gap

Following the success of the Commonwealth Games, Microsoft and the WMCA have committed to a joint initiative that will deliver digital skills in the region and the financial investment to support it. The package will include:

  • New training content for WMCA digital skills bootcamps
  • Business-led regional learning days from Microsoft and its Partner Network
  • Digital Skills Week focused on deep technical skills
  • Expanding Microsoft and Partner job programmes
  • On demand training with LinkedIn Learning
  • Talent connector to match skilled people with digital opportunities

This new multi-year initiative will build on both the legacy of the Commonwealth Games, WMCA’s regional digital skills bootcamp offer and Microsoft’s own nationwide Get On campaign to help 1.5 million people in the UK build a career in technology.

As the largest centre for digital and tech enterprises outside London, the West Midlands has the fastest growing tech economy in the UK. This joint initiative will identify the most in demand roles in the area and the skills needed to secure them, working with the combined authority, business and academia to turbo charge existing skills programmes in the region and create new programmes where there are unmet needs.

The WMCA has already been leading the way in equipping people with the digital skills that businesses need with a region wide bootcamp training offer.  So far thousands of residents have benefitted from training in the latest skills, tools and technologies and made successful transitions to careers in tech.

But this is only a fraction of what is needed.  The WMCA is seeing record numbers of businesses locating to the region and creating jobs – and the demand for tech skills is soaring.

The programme is designed to connect local talent to opportunity and empower employers to build a workforce for long term growth, further enhancing the West Midlands as a competitive driver of the digital economy.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Microsoft announced the initiative at an event hosted by the West Midlands Growth Company to celebrate the successful completion of the Games.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “A key part of my mayoral mission is to equip our local residents – particularly our young people – with the digital skills that will enable them to succeed in the 21st Century economy as well as enjoy a great quality of life alongside their families. This timely and tremendously exciting joint initiative with Microsoft that we’re announcing today helps us to deliver on this important mission.

“Together with Microsoft’s expertise and funding, we will connect talent from across our region with the high-quality jobs of the future – supercharging my 100k jobs plan and putting the might of a major global employer behind a sector with immense potential to support growth in our region in the months and years ahead. I cannot wait for us to get started and see lives changed for the better.”

Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council and portfolio lead for Skills & Productivity, said: “Now that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has come to a close, it is important that we make sure to continue to create further opportunities for local people and further invest in skills programmes throughout the region.

“The Games has put more eyes on the West Midlands than ever before, and we must now use this as a launchpad to encourage employers to invest in local talent and inspire the next generation to unlock their potential.”

Adults with devices in discussion

Derrick McCourt, General Manager of Customer Success at Microsoft, said: The Commonwealth Games has delivered far more than medals for this country; it has reminded people of the importance of Birmingham at the heart of our nation. There is an abundance of talent in the West Midlands and employment opportunity in digital, but I passionately believe that if we want to create equality of opportunity then we must invest in skills. This ambitious program will connect more people to the careers available in technology and ensure they play a key part of the future of the region.”

Zephaniah Chukwudum, Business Manager to the CEO at Microsoft UK and United by 2022, Board Trustee said: “As a Birmingham local, and Board member for United By 2022, the Games legacy charity, I’m excited to mark not only the close of a successful Games, but the start of a new collaboration with Microsoft. United By 2022 aims to ensure that the opportunities for local people don’t stop when the Games does, and with so much public engagement and positivity flowing at the moment this is a perfect time to inspire local people to unlock their own talent and start a career in tech in the West Midlands.”

The Combined Authority has a clear and ambitious vision for the region. It has a strong commitment to employability and skills, working with local and national partners, employers and communities to establish the West Midlands as the place to grow digital talent and create 35,000 new jobs and skills opportunities.

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more through technology. It aims to help tackle the challenges facing the UK today, such as the increasing technology skills gap.

This new initiative supports both missions, with Microsoft also offering training to any of the 14,000 Birmingham 2022 volunteers and workforce who would like to explore a career in technology. Working with the Authority, Microsoft will employ its experience, resources, and customer base to equip local people with high quality skills for the future.