A series of free workshops are being held across Caerphilly County Borough with the aim of addressing the digital skills shortage by providing education and training in coding, creative media, business admin and event management.
Funded through the Caerphilly Regeneration Fund, the workshops have been held in Bargoed, Ystrad Mynach, Risca and Newbridge, with further courses to be delivered in Blackwood and Ynysddu.
They are open to anyone aged 16 and older and are designed to teach people the skills that will help them feel more comfortable in a digital world, upskilling and improving opportunities for work.
Alun Prosser, Director of GoConnect, the social enterprise which is running the projects, said the workshops aim to improve digital skills across the County Borough: “A government report on digital skills estimates that 35 per-cent of current jobs in the UK could be lost to automation in the next two decades. Add to this, the countless other reports that suggest that the UK as a whole just isn’t ready for the changes to the workplace that rapidly advancing tech will bring.
“This is a trend that will strongly be felt in grassroots communities such as Caerphilly, but here we have the ability to make a difference and hopefully set an example. We asked local businesses about the skills and attributes they were looking for in staff and associates, and digital literacy was the top response.
“Having a familiarity and understanding of the tech involved in skills such as coding, graphic design, web design and social media management is going to mean that individuals can keep pace with digital advancement. That can have a huge impact on a person’s life, from feeling confident with new and rapidly changing technology, through to upskilling and employability.”
The programme has been well received and has placed a strong emphasis on engaging individuals who have typically struggled with access to training, education and work experience opportunities. Some of the learners from the programme have become digital champions, and are now actually helping to deliver further community workshops, gaining valuable experience.
One such individual is 22-year-old Josh Davies.
Josh recently left university and moved back home to Maesycwmmer, where he struggled to find employment that matched his skills in audio production. He was referred to Go Digital through the Bargoed Job Centre, where it quickly became clear he had a range of skills that would benefit similar schemes, and so Josh became a Digital Champion, supporting GoConnect on other projects.
Josh said: “I really struggled to find opportunities in south Wales. My experience was in audio production and radio, and all the jobs I could find were in London or other larger cities outside of Wales. I felt like I was going to have to leave to find the job I wanted. Thankfully, my universal credit advisor at the jobcentre told me about GoConnect and the workshops they were running so I got in touch and attended the Bargoed event.
“I eventually started working with GoConnect, and now use the skills I gained on the workshops to help with their community projects. I’m helping them teach others about podcasting, which is one of the fastest-growing mediums right now, so to be working in a field I love and helping upskill others in the Valleys is something I just thought was impossible six months ago.”