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Business & Economy

Sage’s £1.4 million investment to tackle North East digital skills gap hailed “transformational” by Treasury

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has welcomed a skills investment by North East software firm Sage.

Simon Clarke says the business’ commitment to supporting 90,000 young lives in the region over the next five years will provide “transformational” change.

Sage says partnerships with Newcastle United Foundation and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) will make science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers a new reality for schoolchildren, teenagers and young adults through inspiring learning experiences.

It says a third partnership with the National Innovation Centre for Data, based at Newcastle University, will provide computer science students with opportunities to solve real-world problems with a focus on using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

The partnership will pair undergraduate and post graduate students with Sage’s engineering and AI experts, offering them valuable career insights and learning experiences, as well as exposing them to career opportunities to retain their skills in the North East.

As of February 2021, the North East technology sector was the biggest hiring sector in the region with a healthy pipeline of start-ups and fast-growing tech businesses.

However, according to the Industrial Strategy Council, the UK’s supply of skills, particularly technology and people skills, will struggle to keep up with increased demand over the next decade.

Sage’s skills-based learning partnerships with the Newcastle United Foundation and the IET will address the tech skills shortage by supporting disadvantaged young people and those who are not in education employment or training (NEETs).

The learning programmes will provide simulated experiences of jobs and careers, and interactive STEM learning via FIRST© LEGO© League, to train the next generation of regional workers, innovators, and business leaders.

Simon Clarke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland MP, said: “This transformational investment in the North East will help 90,000 young people get the skills they need to pursue successful digital careers.

“We know that jobs based on digital skills boost pay by an average of £8,000 a year.

“Providing people with a better chance at getting those jobs is how we build a high skill, high productivity economy with opportunities for all.”

Sarah Medcalf, deputy head of Newcastle United Foundation, said: ““We are thrilled that Sage have agreed to become our first ever ‘Technology Partner,’ helping us transform the way school children and young people transition from education to careers as part of our NUFutures programme.

“Together, we will introduce young people to career possibilities in the technology sector, through mentoring, personal development and innovative virtual reality scenarios in a growing number of STEM roles available across the region. Sage will also be our lead partner for an annual STEM event held at NUCASTLE attended by over 2000 school children.

“Supporting the next generation to explore skilled careers in a purpose-built facility on their doorstep is key and we are proud to be leading the way for scientists, engineers, mathematicians, technology and digital experts of the future.”