Select Committee on Digital Skills - Report of Session 2014–15

Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future

Appendix 5: Examples of initiatives and action

Government action on hard infrastructure (paragraph 28)

Government cybersecurity initiatives (paragraph 76)

Cyber Streetwise

Cyber Streetwise is a cross-Government campaign, funded by the National Cyber Security Programme, and delivered in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors. The campaign is led by the Home Office, working closely with BIS and the Cabinet Office. The campaign aims to measurably and significantly improve the online safety behaviour and confidence of consumers and SMEs.

Links to various resources produced by the campaign’s partners, helping individuals and organisations find the information they need to protect themselves, their families and their businesses, are available on its website.551

Get Safe Online

Get Safe Online is a public and private sector partnership supported by the Government and leading organisations in banking, retail, internet security and other sectors. The website aims to act as a resource providing practical advice on how to protect individuals, computers and mobile devices and businesses against fraud, identity theft, viruses and many other problems encountered online. It also contains guidance on many other related subjects—including performing backups and how to avoid theft or loss of a computer, smartphone or tablet. A wide variety of topics are included on the site—including safe online shopping, gaming and dating. The site also provides up-to-date news, tips and stories from around the world.

Get Safe Online also organises national events—such as Get Safe Online week—and works closely with law enforcement agencies and other bodies in support of their outreach activity, internal awareness and customer online safety.552

School networks delivering CPD (paragraph 113)

Industry-led initiatives on careers guidance (paragraph 169)

Sky Academy

Through its Academy, Sky is working with thousands of young people to “inspire and cultivate a passion for digital careers”. For example, its Skills Studios experience allows students to use state-of-the-art technology to create their own TV reports. Sky is also developing a new careers initiative which will expose pupils to the breadth of career opportunities available at Sky.560


4Talent is Channel 4’s nationwide outreach scheme aimed at supporting people from a range of backgrounds looking to develop a career in the media. Channel 4 also engages young people from across the UK with its digital work, holding open days where careers advice and workshops are provided by Channel 4 staff and local television and digital companies.561

City & Guilds TechBac

The TechBac is a programme of study which “blends technical qualifications with practical, real world learning developed and delivered in partnerships between education and employers”. The TechBac will provide an offer which makes digital skills integral to whatever vocational route chosen, as well as providing an option of specialising in digital industries.562

STEMNET (the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network)

STEMNET runs the UK’s only network of STEM Ambassadors, with over 27,000 volunteers. Across the UK, STEM Ambassadors volunteer to promote STEM subjects to young learners in a “vast range of original, creative, practical and engaging ways”. They are a free resource for teachers, helping to deliver the STEM curriculum and raise awareness of STEM careers, achieved by revealing how essential STEM is throughout the world. STEM Ambassadors come from a wide range of careers and professions. STEMNET ensures that the population of STEM Ambassadors reflects the diversity of the population: 40% are women; 13% describe themselves as from BAME (black and minority ethnic) backgrounds; and they range from 18 to 70 years old, with almost 60% under 35 years old.563

Private sector skills training organisations (paragraph 194)

General Assembly

“At General Assembly, we are creating a global community of individuals empowered to pursue work they love, by offering full-time immersive programs, long-form courses, and classes and workshops on the most relevant skills of the 21st century—from web development and user experience design, to business fundamentals, to data science, to product management and digital marketing.

Established in early 2011 as an innovative community in New York City for entrepreneurs and startup companies, General Assembly is an educational institution that transforms thinkers into creators through education in technology, business and design at fourteen campuses across four continents.”564

Makers Academy

Makers Academy was launched in February 2013 and is Europe’s leading coding provider. The Academy helps complete beginners to learn the basics of software development and find their first job as junior programmers in world-class companies.

Since its launch, the Academy has graduated over 250 students who went to join leading software companies as junior developers earning an average starting salaries of £30,000 per annum. Companies hiring Academy graduates include: Marks and Spencer; the Ministry of Justice; British Sky Broadcasting; Compare The Market; Deloitte Digital; Just Giving; and many other leading tech companies.

The course is full-time, face-to-face and highly intensive. Students undertake a four-week, online, part-time pre-course on the basics of programming, followed by 12 weeks of project-based tuition at its teaching space in London’s Silicon Roundabout. The Academy runs a new course every six weeks, taking an average of 25 students in each intake.565

Initiatives aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (paragraph 231)

Go ON UK’s SME Digital Capability Programme

In partnership with BIS, Go ON UK launched its SME Digital Capability Programme. This Programme was designed to empower SMEs across the UK to capitalise on the time and cost savings associated with transacting online whilst maximising productivity and growth.

Go ON UK estimated that in the last year this initiative had inspired 300,000 SMEs to investigate online business opportunities, of which 5,500 had taken further action to transition towards transacting and marketing themselves online.

As the programme enters its second year, the Programme’s focus will be on developing enhanced corporate partnerships and engineering a scalable digital incubation network for SMEs in collaboration with LEPs and Growth Hubs. This will include:

Virgin Media and Free:Formers Training Programme

In July 2013, Virgin Media partnered with digital skills provider Free:Formers to conduct an intensive, three week training programme for 25 small businesses in Birmingham. They deliberately targeted businesses from a range of sectors who to date had not invested in digital services and were unconvinced by what broadband could offer them.

Virgin Media and Free:Formers devised a digital training module that started at a very basic level of technical understanding and built to providing advance training on how to code, build a website and populate it with content, embed video and develop a social media strategy. The fast-moving curriculum demanded a classroom-based environment to ensure that the participants could ask questions and build as they learnt.

Virgin Media reportedly received very positive feedback from the group of businesses and at the end of the training programme, and observed a material improvement in the digital capability of all participants.567

Examples of regional specialisms (paragraph 240)

550 Written evidence from HM Government (DSC0084)

551 Cyber Streetwise: [accessed 15 December 2014]

552 Get Safe Online: [accessed 15 December 2014]

553 Findings by DfE, delivered through BCS. Written evidence from BCS (DSC0051)

554 DfE is funding a master teacher training programme. The idea of a master teacher is that a practising teacher who is outstanding (according to Ofsted) is paired with a local university and provides CPD for their local schools.

555 Q 144 (Dr Bill Mitchell)

556 Q 145 (Sir Andrew Carter)

557 Written evidence from UKForCE (DSC0078)

558 See QQ 129–142 (Clare Sutcliffe’s opening remarks)

559 Written evidence from Humber LEP (DSC0060)

560 Written evidence from British Sky Broadcasting (DSC0036). See also: [accessed 8 December 2014]

561 Written evidence from Channel 4 (DSC0099). See also: [accessed 8 December 2014]

562 Written evidence from City & Guilds (DSC0044). See also: [accessed 8 December 2014]

563 Written evidence from UKForCE (DSC0078). See also: [accessed 8 December 2014]

564 General Assembly, ‘Our Story’: [accessed 18 December 2014]

565 Written evidence from Makers Academy (DSC0119)

566 Written evidence from Go ON UK (DSC0079) and HM Government (DSC0084)

567 Written evidence from Virgin Media (DSC0100)

571 Written evidence from Here East (DSC0048)

574 Written evidence from RCUK (DSC0055)