Free digital career skills platform launched for disadvantaged youth

The Patrick Morgan Foundation has won funding to support digital programmes for young people, hoping to help close the UK’s growing digital skills gap

The Patrick Morgan Foundation, a UK charity dedicated to the provision of career training skills and workshops, has won vital funding from the National Lottery and City Bridge Trust to launch an online digital career skills platform for disadvantaged youth across the UK.

Designed to widen access to employment opportunities for thousands of young people, the charity hopes the platform will help to address the nation’s growing unemployment gap and boost workforce diversity.

The new platform plays host to the Foundation’s career skills workshops and resources, providing an easily accessible programme for schools and colleges across the country.

Coming from a lower socioeconomic background himself, James O’Dowd, founder of the Patrick Morgan Foundation, commented: “We feel passionately that no child should be left behind, no matter where they come from or what their environment is. This year has of course been on of the most challenging for educators, only further widening the education gap for disadvantaged young people. We are determined to provide everyone with the tools and – more importantly – the confidence to get a good start in their career.

“By converting our workshops online, we’ve not only overcome challenges with the pandemic, we’ve also made the programme available for young people widely across the UK. We’re pleased to say that hundreds of students have already successfully completed the workshop since launching online.”

Addressing the digital skills gap

A recent survey by the Children’s Commissioner revealed that just one in four UK employees from low income families have the basic digital skills needed for work, with this year’s school closures following the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the issue. According to the survey, an estimated 9% of families still have no access to a laptop, computer or tablet at home.

As O’Dowd explained: “The UK’s education system already falls far behind in contrast with other developed economies; Singapore’s educational system starts cyber wellness instruction in the first year of primary school and integrates it across multiple subjects, ensuring all young people are equipped with a skill set needed for future employment.

“We provide vocational education and digital training that is essential for today’s employment opportunities. We’re not only addressing employability concerns, but also diversity in the workforce, which has to start at grassroots level. Our goal is to introduce career pathways that many young people may not have been exposed to previously.”

Reviewed and approved by teachers in 10 partner schools to date, the Patrick Morgan Foundation aligns with all areas of the national curriculum and the Gatsby Benchmarks. The platform has been designed to integrate into lessons, to be used as a platform to support homework assignments, or to be used as an additional tool for students whenever needed – before an interview, for example.

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