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FutureLearn to deliver digital skills programmes as part of multi-million pound Institute of Coding initiative

FutureLearn, the online social learning platform committed to transforming access to education on a global scale, will deliver digital skills courses from the University of Leeds, University of Lancaster, Goldsmiths and the Creative Computing Institute at the University of Arts London (UAL), as part of the multi-million pound Institute of Coding (IoC) initiative.

The IoC, a consortium of universities, employers and outreach organisations, with a mission to develop the next generation of digital talent at degree level and above, has announced the formal allocation of £4.8m of funding. The sum is inclusive of £2.4m of grant funding provided by the Office for Students (OFS) and a further £2.4m of match funding from the consortium of partners that have formed the winning bids.

Among the partners is the University of Leeds, which has partnered with FutureLearn to create new online courses to support the next generation of digital talent. A consortium — led by the University of Leeds — has secured £500,000 to launch a new programme called ‘The IoC guide to kick starting your career with 21C skills’. These online courses — delivered through FutureLearn — are designed to focus on digital employability skills for people in the 18-25 age group and will be available later this year.

Carol Elston, Head of Leeds’ Digital Education Service, said: “We know recruiters have identified certain gaps in digital skills, so we’re designing these short online courses to meet the needs of employers.

“This investment will support a more diverse workforce and means learners from different backgrounds, particularly groups who are under-represented or disadvantaged, will all have the chance to improve knowledge of digital technologies and skills.”

UAL’s new Creative Computing Institute has been given £581,000 for its ‘Creative solutions to digital transformation’ project and will work with Lancaster University, Goldsmiths University and FutureLearn to develop a bespoke online learning programme that can help transform business in media, manufacturing and engineering through creative digital technologies.

Focused on the future environment, the programme cover specific creative digital technologies that can transform opportunities in media and manufacturing, as well as key roles and skills and how these can be futureproofed. The learning focus and content will be designed in collaboration with Made Smarter, Nesta and Semta to meet the real identified needs of industry.

Mick Grierson, Professor and Research Leader at the Creative Computing Institute: “It’s great for the Creative Computing Institute to be leading this project with our Institute of Coding partners. Creative Technologies are a core part of UK engineering and productivity – across marketing, design and prototyping, as well as core problem solving for product development. Diversifying skills in these areas can help businesses to prosper and profit through creative digital solutions. We’re interested in supporting new and existing staff in businesses across the sector to develop better understanding and skills in creative technology, ensuring industries have vital access to diverse creative technology experts who can help them reach greater potential by embedding creative digital technologies into their business models.”

Dr Joe Finney, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Institute of Coding at Lancaster University: “Modern Computer Science is a creative, collaborative and exciting subject that empowers people to innovate new ideas and solve problems in society. We are committed to revolutionising the face of Computing to reflect these inclusive and diverse opportunities that it provides. We are proud to work with our colleagues in the Institute of Coding to develop online courses that inspire learners throughout the UK and the world in the areas of Physical and Creative Computing. Building on our previous global success in collaboratively developing the BBC micro:bit, these courses will provide an open and accessible foundation for a diverse range of people to create their own digital futures.”

Stephen Somerville, Managing Director, Government and Employer Partnerships at  FutureLearn said: “We’re delighted to be working with The University of Leeds and the CCI to host such an important portfolio of courses and at a time when the need for investment in digital skills is so clear.

“The Institute of Coding is an excellent example of cross-sector collaboration and exactly the kind of initiative we need to be celebrating. At our inaugural employment roundtable earlier this month, which brought together educators and employers, digital skills was unsurprisingly high up on the agenda and it is encouraging to see an investment of this scale committed to tackling the challenge.”

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About FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform formed in December 2012 by The Open University and is now the largest online learning platform in Europe with nine million people signed up worldwide. FutureLearn uses design, technology and partnerships to create enjoyable, credible and flexible online courses as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that improve working lives. It partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities, as well as organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, Raspberry Pi and Health Education England (HEE). It’s also involved in government-backed initiatives to address skills gaps such as The Institute of Coding and the National Centre for Computing Education.

About the Creative Computing Institute

Part of University of the Arts London, the Creative Computing Institute works at the intersection of creativity and computational technologies, offering innovative new courses, research opportunities and a public platform to explore computer science and creative practice.


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