Part-funded by the European Social Fund and Sheffield City Council, Advancing Digital is a free programme from Opportunity Sheffield which provides fully funded training in a range of digital skills, supporting businesses and employees on their learning journeys.
Last month, unLTD caught up with two of the faces behind the project, Bill Hilton and Chelsea Moffatt, to discover how businesses and individuals can make the most of this free training resource.
Tell us a bit about Opportunity Sheffield and your work with Advancing Digital?
BH: Opportunity Sheffield is the employment and skills service in Sheffield City Council. We have five main programmes aimed to break down barriers to employment, create job opportunities and help local businesses grow. One of those programmes, Advancing Digital, is part-funded by the European Social Fund and the idea is two-fold: to provide a free service for businesses in upskilling their employees, and to provide individuals with free upskilling opportunities so they can move into the type of career they want.
CM: Advancing Digital is very much focused on improving IT skills; a lot of it is about digital inclusion and closing the digital gap. A lot of people might associate the digital gap specifically with being unable to do advanced technical things such as coding, but there are also people in jobs where for whatever reason they haven’t been trained in basic IT skills. Programmes like Advancing Digital help to fill those gaps.
BH: There are a lot of essential skills training that people are missing out on, and we want to change that. The only remits are that you have to live or work in South Yorkshire and in some form of employment.
“The idea is two-fold: to provide a free service for businesses in upskilling their employees, and to provide individuals with free upskilling opportunities so they can move into the type of career they want.”
As well as benefiting individuals, it can help businesses to keep their employees fulfilled and motivated?
BH: Yes, there’s a mutual benefit for employers and employees. One of the most significant costs for businesses is recruitment, and one of the best ways for businesses to keep their staff happy and motivated is by offering them upskilling opportunities. Everything we offer is free and incredibly easy to get involved with.
How can people get involved?
BH: It’s just a quick form, which doesn’t take long at all to fill in. People can get involved by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 0114 229 6188 or taking a look at the website www.careeradvancetraining.org.uk. Searching ‘opportunityshef’ on Facebook and Instagram will take you to our social media pages, which have plenty more information on how we can help local businesses and workers.
CM: The form takes a couple of minutes to fill in, and I’ll follow that up with a phone call to discuss their current role and whether they’re looking to upskill in that role or change careers. From there I’ll identify which accredited courses might be suitable for them.
What about people who like the idea of upskilling but are worried about finding the time to look into it?
CM: We are looking at making courses even more accessible. For example, we’ll be running a completely virtual cohort for our Accounting/Bookkeeping course starting March 13th. We can sign people up very quickly online and I’m always on hand for advice.
So people and businesses can come to you with a rough idea of what they’re after and you do the rest?
CM: Of course. You don’t need to come to us with a specific plan – that’s where we come in! We have a Career Advance Training Platform with over 200 courses available. Sometimes people will get in touch with a general direction of where they want to go, or sometimes they just want to learn and we can talk them through what’s on offer.
What key career areas are covered by the platform?
BH: The Career Advance Training Platform is split into eight key areas: Financial Management, Resource Efficiency, Customer Relationship Management, User Experience/User Interface, People Management, Project Management, Data/Information Management and Cyber Security. It’s a constantly updating platform.
CM: The accredited courses we offer include Digital Marketing, Accounting/Bookkeeping, Leadership & Management, AutoCAD, Cyber Security & Digital Skills for Work. There are six live at the moment, between levels one and two, and are being run by The Sheffield College, Momentum Recruitment & Training and The Source Skills Academy.
Could you give an example of businesses who’ve contacted the Advancing Digital team and how they’ve benefited?
BH: Sheffield City Trust is one. They’re working with Advancing Digital on upskilling their staff on Leadership & Management, Excel skills, Bookkeeping and AutoCAD, the latter of which they use in all of their venues. That just shows you the sort of scope that there is for businesses,
CM: CC33 are a contact centre based on Ecclesall Road. They’ve got their own leadership programme so we’re now offering them our Leadership & Management course, which complements their existing scheme perfectly.
BH: Most of the businesses we work with are SMEs or Micro SMEs, but it just shows that what we offer works for bigger companies too. It’s a brilliant programme and a real no-brainer for businesses and individuals looking for easy, accessible routes in upskilling.
To find out more, email email@example.com, visit www.careeradvancetraining.org.uk or call 0114 229 6188
TESTIMONIAL: HOW ADVANCING DIGITAL HELPED ME
I’m Anwar Suliman. I’m a photographer specialising in events and studio photography. I heard about the course through Business Sheffield who signposted me to Advancing Digital.
It appealed to me because I knew how to do traditional marketing, but digital marketing was a bit new and scary.
The tutor, Max, was really good and explained everything well. It was a mixed-age group of people in the class, who could interact with each other and learn together.
The course taught me all the different processes, all the way through, and how to utilize all the apps and tools in the marketing process.
I think the course will help me progress my career further. Once I’ve learnt a bit more about social media, I’ll put it all together to make a comprehensive marketing strategy.
I’d definitely recommend it to other small business owners, because I think it will really help them get on and promote themselves better.
To join the next Digital Marketing cohort starting on Monday 3 April, email: firstname.lastname@example.org