More than 90 Greater Manchester and Lancashire residents are graduating from a new cyber academy this month after being re-trained with digital skills.
The Raytheon Professional Services (RPS) Academy, is one of the first of its kind in the UK, and has trained participants in IT and cyber security virtually from Salford.
The RPS Academy is one of the projects in the £3 million Fast Track Digital Fund, an initiative which helps Greater Manchester and Lancashire employers recruit for hard-to-fill digital roles by equipping local residents with the necessary skills.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “The academy is a great example of the type of activity that will increase digital skills in Greater Manchester and ensures Greater Manchester remains a growing digital hub.
“Raytheon designed the course with Raytheon’s cyber security experts and then worked with local employers to shape it to suit the requirements of our local community.
“This actually ensures that graduates will have the skills that employers are actually asking for.”
The RPS Academy and the Fast Track Digital Fund in general specifically target communities which are underrepresented within the digital sector whilst addressing the skill gap.
RPS believes by 2022 there will be a talent gap of 1.8 million cyber specialists.
RPS’ UK Business Operations manager, David Marriott said: “This [gap] can only be filled if employers embrace the concept of recruiting and training new or junior level skills from academies such as ours.”
“With continued funding from government to fund skills camps and make apprenticeships available to all age groups, and the doubling of the incentive payments for employers who recruit an apprentice to £3,000, we are going a long way to ensuring that digital employment opportunities are made available to all communities.”
The RPS Academy graduates are now in good positions to secure a range of digital roles, including junior cyber security roles with employers such as Salford City Council and Morson Projects.
Although the programme will officially finish at the end of March, nearly 10% of the graduates have secured employment already.
Many of the graduates were recruited from sectors which have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hospitality and tourism.
Georgia is one of these graduates, who decided to retrain when the pandemic halted her career as a travel agent.
Wanting to gain new skills, Georgia applied for the RPS Academy and secured a place.
Georgia said: “For me, computer science was always a hobby and the situation with COVID and everything was definitely an opportunity to improve my skills, so it was a very big opportunity for me.”
As well as equipping Georgia with specific skills and confidence the RPS Academy also helped her with her CV.
Georgia has since secured a job at Amazon, working with the video analytics team.