The changing face of Greater Manchester Digital Policy as it becomes a leader in Digital Innovation, Education and Inclusion will help it sustain growth in what is likely to be a difficult time after Covid and the UK’s split with the EU.
If our city is able to inspire and empower the population of Greater Manchester not only those in a position of privilege but also those who are often overlooked then Greater Manchester will have a future to look forward too.
I don’t think it is the rolling out of 5G that will manage this, but I think Greater Manchester has taken on board the need to support local communities, NGO’s and not-for-profit organisations who will focus on supporting people in these changing times.
Covid has really brought these focuses forward as it is clear that people are being left behind, due to social deprivation, we as a society need to find more balance in digital skills, many households for example who are unable to use digital tools are paying way more for their energy and gas because they do not have access to comparison tools.
The problem with not going anywhere is that if your household is without a computer and broadband then you are already being left behind, but if we are honest in describing this situation this happened way before COVID. According to No Longer Optional: Employer Demand for Digital Skills June 2019 report over 75% of job openings at each level (low-, middle-, and high-skill roles) request digital skills.
Digital skills carry a significant wage differential and digital skills are in demand everywhere in at least 82% of online advertised openings across the UK. So I admire GM for recognising the need to change this, the problem is working a way of doing this that does not leave a significant proportion of the Greater Manchester community behind.
A New Plan
Job seekers will require access to both digital and non-digital skills the above report highlights the fact that digital skills often support the more traditional skills sets such as sales, marketing and communication. Greater Manchester will need to build support that takes this into account. Let’s not forget that in my experience IT companies are increasingly finding it harder to find graduates who have also got ‘soft skills’, as they have been taught everything but, so this may be an opening for the older more experienced job seekers.
The report also highlights that everywhere will recognise the difference in its own demographic so rather than forcing a centralised point of view it has taken the healthy point of view to encourage regions like Greater Manchester to have a Digital Skills Policy that is driven locally. I really hope that this happens and is adaptable as we see digital skills change rapidly over time.