Nominet invests in the nation’s digital talent to address digital skills gap

24th July 2017

 …Nominet Digital Neighbourhood offers training and paid work experience connecting digitally savvy youths with local SMEs to help them both prosper…

Oxford, 24th July 2017: Nominet, the internet company best known for running the .UK internet infrastructure, is today launching Nominet Digital Neighbourhood – the digital skills training and work experience programme. Unlike many other schemes, it trains underprivileged young people aged 18-24 in a range of digital skills, and then offers them paid work experience opportunities with local SMEs who lack the digital expertise required to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them online. The initiative aims to help tackle the UK’s digital skills gap, which currently costs the UK economy £63 billion a year.

The Nominet Digital Neighbourhood programme, which is being facilitated by youth-led creative network Livity, aims to train 175 young people and partner them with SMEs in its first year, as it reaches the cities of London, Cardiff, Leeds and Glasgow over the next two months. Each young person will embark on a three-day training course with a qualified expert covering social media skills, Google AdWords and SEO, and following its completion be matched with a suitable local SME that requires their skills for a paid placement.

The launch of the programme follows a successful pilot scheme which took place last year across Birmingham, London and Cardiff. By investing almost £400,000 in the initiative, Nominet aims to provide more work experience opportunities and boost digital knowledge amongst local communities. The programme comes when recent findings from the government which found that the opportunities for work placements amongst UK businesses has remained consistent since 2014, with less than two-fifths (38%) offering any form of work experience placement in the last 12 months.

Russell Haworth, CEO, Nominet says: “We want to play our part in helping to fill the UK’s digital skills gap. By training young local talent and connecting them with real businesses in their area who need support with their online endeavours, both are able to develop and prosper. Feedback from our pilot of the programme showed that both SMEs and young people said their confidence increased with each session spent together, and so with this endorsement we were pleased to develop the programme to provide opportunities for others to also improve their chances of success.

“It’s a bit like reinventing apprenticeships, but for the digital economy. By offering paid work placements and training expenses to the young people, we think the programme goes the extra mile toward valuing the candidates’ time and commitment and ensures that the training is relevant and accessible.”

Cassie-Drew, a student from Cardiff who took part in the pilot programme says: “I learnt a lot more than I thought I would… I think the program is a brilliant idea and will be telling other people about it.”

Richard Clements, founder of Clear Cut Solutions, the small business that was paired with Cassie-Drew, says: “Business-wise I have had a really great January (first week of the month was my biggest revenue since launching), this was off the back of an improved social media presence thanks to Cassie-Drew.”

Following feedback from the pilot scheme, this year’s training scheme will be timetabled to fit around the young people’s studies and employment to avoid any impact on existing commitments. The young person partnering with local SMEs for work experience will also be paid in line with the London Living Wage and will also take place to fit in with both parties’ needs. The placements with the SMEs are between six and 12 hours, depending on the business’s need, over a two-week period.

Ellie Bradley, COO, Nominet comments: “For young people, the age-old conundrum of needing work experience to get experience stalls careers, causes financial problems and evokes a sense of social exclusion that can be hugely damaging for the individual and the wider community. We’re confident that the Digital Neighbourhood will provide opportunities for both young people and SMEs and helps address the widely-reported shortfall of workers with digital skills in the UK.”

The Nominet Digital Neighbourhood scheme follows other projects where Nominet is supporting and helping to encourage and educate young people, including Nominet being a founding patron of the Prince’s Trust Online – its new online platform – and founding partner of the Micro:bit Foundation, both of which help advance digital skills for young people.