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Learning Without Limits – Lessons from the Digital Skills Festival

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By Jamie Thomas, M-SParc Marketing and Events Officer

Whatever your industry, wherever you work, your goals will differ in terms of what defines success from one workplace to the next, but what should unite us is the desire to inspire the next generation, and we should never forget the importance of that.

That’s why, for as long as I’m fortunate enough to work at M-SParc, the Digital Skills Festival will be an annual highlight for me.

We welcomed over 250 participants to M-SParc’s sessions during the festival, reaching people from as young as eight years old all the way up to postgraduate students, providing excellent, engaging workshops educating in the fields of coding, CAD/CAM, UX/UI Design, Software Development, and everybody – from participants to providers – left M-SParc totally inspired!

It was awesome to work with Aston Martin F1 Team, Technocamps and STEM Cymru to deliver the sessions, and the universal impact the festival had – particularly for the younger participants – is that it showed what is possible and what our young people can achieve if they’re given the tools to succeed and to learn without limits.

Two things that really stand out for me from the week to emphasise were having Aston Martin F1’s Michael Leonard with us during the week and seeing primary school children already at such an advanced level with some of their digital skills.

Michael, a young man from Anglesey who at 11 years old was utterly driven to make it to the glitz and glamour of Formula 1. Now, just over 10 years later, he’s there and he’s designed and created parts for race-winning cars. For the children to meet him, hear his story, and see with their own eyes that anything is possible, what an experience.

It is our responsibility now as an industry and as people who care about the future of our young people, alongside educational establishments, to make sure that everything is in place for the next generation to have those same ambitions alongside a pathway and the confidence to achieve them.

The Regional Skills Partnership (RSP) for North Wales is tasked with stepping up to the challenge of developing local digital skills through the ‘Digital Skills Employer Cluster Group’. This group brings together local employers who are key in helping to identify current and future skills gaps across the region in high value IT, digital and tech jobs. The group is a platform for employers to voice concerns and issues with the aim to make the most of their knowledge and experience across a wide range of industries and to find innovative solutions to inform future provision to aid new generational talent.

Developing that pathway and enabling that confidence both effectively and quickly must be vital considerations for all of us moving forward, especially when you factor in the significant investment coming to the region as part of the North Wales Growth Deal over the next few years.

We are all looking forward to seeing the impact of the Growth Deal projects in the region, which will deliver significant capital spend in north Wales, developing incredible infrastructure across a wide range of sectors and areas that are crucial to the growth of the region.

Sitting alongside this once in a lifetime investment, though, we have a duty as a region to ensure that the skills are in place locally to take advantage of the careers created as a result of this expenditure.

If those skills aren’t there, we’ll never realise the true value of these incredible sums of money, and that is part of what the Digital Skills Festival was all about.

Welsh Government, ourselves at M-SParc, STEM Cymru, the Regional Skills Partnerships and too many other partners to list, all have a vital role to play in developing those skills and creating those environments where young people can thrive, have ambitions, and realise them locally.

The Digital Skills Festival was just one of many steps that are being taken across the region to deliver that – there’s a lot of work to do, but we at M-SParc are doing everything we can to realise the Digital Skills Future that we need. If you feel compelled to inspire the next generation, as we do, we would like to hear from you at M-SParc.