Microsoft UK Director of Education Steve Beswick, CAVC Principal and Chief Executive Mike James, Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James and risual Director and Co-owner Alun Rogers with CAVC IT students (l-r) Jeffrey Ross, James Holloway, Ella Jenkins and Bradley Le Breuilly

CAVC driving digital skills with risual Microsoft Academy

7 July 2016

Cardiff and Vale College driving digital skills agenda with launch of risual Microsoft Academy for Wales

Cardiff and Vale College (CAVC) is taking steps to address the digital skills gap in Wales by launching the risual Microsoft Academy to support the digital needs of individuals, employers and communities of the Capital Region.

The innovative new Academy was launched today (07.07.16) by Julie James AM, Minister for Skills and Science, alongside Steve Beswick, Director for Education at Microsoft UK.

The UK faces a growing shortage of digital skills, with reportedly a third of the Welsh population lacking in the five basic digital skills. CAVC has invested in the future workforce of the region by teaming up with Microsoft’s UK Country Partner of the Year, risual Ltd, to establish the new academy that will be located at the College’s landmark £45m City Centre Campus in Cardiff Central Enterprise Zone.

The digital skills need is clear across all sectors of employment and sizes of business – from SMEs to large multinational and public sector organisations, there is a significant demand from employers to upskill workforces and further digitise business. The digital sector itself also continues to grow across the UK and is now a huge employer – worth over £0.6bn to the Welsh economy and making up 6% of the total UK economy.

The South East Wales City Region is set to reap the benefits of the new risual Microsoft Academy, which is the only one in Wales. The academy will look to upskill students existing digital skills to support a digitally literate new workforce for businesses across the region – offering relevant digital learning, Microsoft qualifications and workshops with industry experts. It will also offer Digital and IT apprenticeships with Microsoft units embedded within the framework – an exciting and innovative prospect for local businesses in need of industry relevant IT apprentices.

For employers the academy will offer a wide range of industry focused digital skills training and Microsoft qualifications to upskill their workforce, and a higher level ICT skills offer in line with employer needs. In addition it will provide a forum for employers across the South East Wales City Region to optimise their business through digital development and collaborative planning for future skills needs.

Mike James, Principal and Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale College, said: “The launch of this innovative academy will be of vast benefit to not only our students, apprentices and staff but also to the employers of the City Region. Our aim is to tackle the skills gap seen on a national level and create a real hub for digital skills growth right across the South East Wales City Region and beyond.

“By working with employers to highlight digital skills requirements in their businesses and across sectors we can collaboratively plan for the development of future skills, so we are truly delivering tomorrows skills needs, today. We want to use this Academy and our status as a risual Microsoft Academy to generate a buzz about careers in this vital sector amongst the future workforce; highlighting it is a well-paid and exciting sector offering long-term careers.”

Alun Rogers, Director and Co-owner of risual said: “We are really excited to be launching the first Welsh risual academy in partnership with Cardiff and Vale College and Microsoft. This new partnership between risual and Cardiff and Vale College will provide industry relevant IT apprenticeships and youth employment opportunities, as well as providing employers access to Microsoft qualifications to upskill their existing staff.

“The Welsh Government is determined to help tackle the digital skills shortage and grow the ICT sector across the country. We firmly believe this partnership will play its part in tackling the digital skills shortage and forms a key part to our charter for Wales. This is part of risual’s long-term commitment to Wales and our determination to work with organisations across the country in both the commercial and public sector.

“risual and Microsoft are determined to play its part in making Wales a thriving economy by creating an aspirational and innovative enterprise culture, with skilled apprentices to futureproof Welsh based business.”

“Microsoft has a world-wide strategy for education and that is to enable every student in the world to achieve more, and they can achieve more through having better digital skills,” Microsoft UK Director of Education Steve Beswick explained. “What Cardiff and Vale College and risual are doing here in Wales is absolutely in line with that world-wide strategy.

“Qualifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist make a difference. Head teachers we have spoken to, and small and medium sized employers have told us that people leaving school or college with Microsoft Office Specialist qualification is a differentiator in a job interview because the employer knows they don’t have to spend money training that person.”

Minister for Skills and Science Julie James said:  “Digital skills are vital in the modern workforce. Research indicates that the ICT sector employs almost 40,000 people and is worth over £8billion to the economy of Wales.

“We also know high growth is forecast in specialist roles, in particular web design and developers, programmers and software specialists to name a few.

“Supporting and listening to our employers in ensuring the right qualifications are available to develop and retrain our current workforce is fundamental to keep ahead in such fast paced environment.

"I am delighted that Welsh Government has supported the establishment of risual’s first Microsoft Academy in Wales in partnership with Cardiff and Vale College here in the city centre.

“I look forward to hearing more from the panel about the offer of the academy, and plans to support growth of digital skills in Wales.”

Employers wishing to find out more about the risual Microsoft Academi at Cardiff and Vale College can contact the college via a dedicated email: risual@cavc.ac.uk or by calling their employer line tel: 02920 250 350.