Lifelong learning at the University of Manchester

The University’s Flexible Learning Programme is a strategic change programme focussed on delivering
flexibility in terms of place, pace and pathway. Lifelong and flexible learning are central to Our Future Strategy,
we aim to develop inclusive and accessible education to be a learning partner for life.

The University of Manchester (UoM) is working with Manchester City Council (MCC) as a strategic university
partner within their City of Lifelong Learning initiative, leading on the digital skills theme of the programme.

Our focus

This work will be driven by the University’s Flexible Learning Programme and the Turing Innovation Catalyst
(TIC) Manchester. This brings together research excellence with teaching and learning expertise to benefit the
city and the wider region. The Turing Innovation Catalyst Manchester (TIC) is a new not-for-profit focussed on
catalysing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem within Greater Manchester (GM). Through the delivery of an
ambitious programme of work, TIC is using AI to power the growth of careers, businesses and the regional
economy. TIC is providing support across GM through initiatives including an AI Accelerator; Venture Builder;
Skills Programmes and a Collaborative R&D offering. All of TIC’s initiatives have been designed with DEI and
ethical considerations at their core. TIC is funded as part of the GM Innovation Accelerator and is being
incubated within the University of Manchester.

Why digital skills?

The city region’s digital asset base which includes world-leading digital R&D institutions, a dynamic mix of
digital-first start-ups, SMEs and global corporates, and a large, diverse and highly skilled digital talent pool
provides a strong platform for future growth. Digital is also of strategic importance to the City’s council.
Manchester has a legacy of smart city projects that have been foundational for growth and innovation, and the
City now has a refreshed Digital Strategy which highlights people and skills as a key priority. However, despite
its strengths, GM’s digital ecosystem has more room to grow and there are particular challenges for AI and
deep digital technologies. The Local Skills Improvement Plan led by GM Chamber of Commerce identified areas
such as Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and AI as high priorities to address within the region.
Companies of all sizes have difficulties accessing the talent with the commercial acumen and sector-specific
skills needed to develop and adopt AI technologies, with start-ups and scale-ups particularly affected. Certain
technical roles such as Product Managers are difficult to find in GM, with digital-first scale-ups and growing
businesses often hiring from outside the region.

Manchester’s Digital Skills Framework

To address the challenges around accessing talent and sector-specific digital skills, TIC will lead on
the development of Manchester’s Digital Skills Framework (MDSF):
· We will bring together industry, training providers and relevant stakeholders together to co-design a
user-focused digital skills framework for the Manchester digital ecosystem.
· We will provide a structure for businesses/industry and training providers to consistently navigate
the digital skills landscape through the production and advocacy of a common set of digital skills
· We will design the framework to be accessible and support all levels of training provision. It will
enable employers to map their digital skills needs for their organisation and anchor this against specific,
appropriate provision.
· We will work with partners across the ecosystem to build an understanding of the needs of the city
and the strengths and gaps in the current provision to address digital skills to develop MDSF.

We’d like to hear from you

To develop the framework we would like to engage with the following stakeholders within the Greater
Manchester region: micro, medium and global businesses; further education, higher education publicly and
privately funded training and education providers; central and local government bodies and professional
bodies with an interest in this agenda.

If you’d like to find out more about this project or get involved please contact:
Professor Ang Davies, Academic Theme Lead for Flexible Learning Pathways:
Lauren Birch, TIC Talent and Skills Manager:

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