Reskilling the UK’s workforce for the economy of the future has become even more urgent. The last few months have been a challenging time for people and organisations throughout the UK. Faced with the uncertainty and disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with competition increasing in the job market, we have seen many people trying to retrain and move into different industries.
Small to medium-sized companies have not escaped the impact of the pandemic and have been forced to introduce brand new digital capabilities at pace to ensure their business can survive. Considering there are nearly six million small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK, accounting for 50 percent of the total revenue generated by UK businesses and 44 percent of the country’s labour force, the impact has been felt far and wide.
As we accelerate towards a more digitally enabled work environment the need for new digital skills is set to increase. Combine this situation with an IBM Institute of Business Value 2019 Study that forecasted over two million people in the UK will need to either upskill or re-skill by 2022, the quicker we adapt to the new digital reality the better.
Introducing SkillsBuild Reignite
To address the current skills gap in the UK, IBM has launched the SkillsBuild Reignite platform with partners including Open University, Institute of Directors, Jones Day and Social Enterprise UK so users can benefit from a wide range of online coaching and learning. The platform will provide job seekers and entrepreneurs with access to free online coursework and mentoring support designed to help them develop the technical and professional skills needed to reinvent their careers and businesses. Job seekers, individual business owners, entrepreneurs and any individual with learning aspirations can now tap into over 370 learning activities with industry-relevant content on topics including Artificial intelligence, Cloud, Data Analytics and Security. The type and number of learning activities are growing daily.
Small and medium-sized businesses will also benefit from coursework and personalised coaching and entrepreneurs can seek advice to help establish or restart their businesses as they begin to focus on recovery. Courses for small business owners include financial management, business strategy, digital strategy, legal support and more. Plus, IBM volunteers will serve as mentors to help reinvigorate local communities.
SkillsBuild Reignite builds on the existing SkillsBuild platform launched in the UK towards the end of 2019. Since then over 1800 learning activities have been completed by beneficiaries from four different partner organisations in the UK – City Gateway, ACH, YouthFed and Salute My Job, boosting knowledge of web development, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and client engagement.
SkillsBuild Reignite expands this offering by being open to anyone, free of charge, for registration.
SkillsBuild Reignite Partners
All these opportunities are supported by an ecosystem of partners who are working hard to deliver the best possible experience, including:
The Institute of Directors (IoD) is a national organisation representing and serving the needs of SME owners and directors of SME’s, with a membership of approximately 25,000. The IoD works closely with the UK Government to influence the development of policy, legislation, taxation etc. as it relates to the SME sector. It has a network of regional hubs through which it delivers training and professional development courses targeted at the needs of their constituency, which has also been extended to members of the SkillsBuild Reignite platform.
Director General for IoD, Jonathan Geldart, commented “As the world of work changes, directors are eager to continue developing themselves and those around them. We’re delighted to be working with IBM to support skills across the board. SkillsBuild Reignite provides an exciting resource for our members, and can help them find an edge and prepare for the challenges ahead.”
Jones Day (UK) has a long history of, and commitment to, pro bono work, public service, and community involvement in all locations around the world, provided the same level of attention and professional dedication that they provide to matters undertaken on behalf of paying clients. Jones Day consists of lawyers from diverse backgrounds leading client engagements, practice groups, and offices around the world. As part of the partnership with IBM, Jones Day will provide recorded video sessions and advisory services on a wide range of legal matters that small business owners might be facing.
Rhys Thomas, Partner at Jones Day, said “Jones Day has a long history of, and commitment to, pro bono work, public service, and community involvement in all locations around the world. That’s why we are delighted to support SkillsBuild Reignite by sharing our global legal expertise by providing legal education for small business owners and organisations that may be facing legal situations they had never considered encountering.”
The Open University (OU): the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. The university was founded with a clear purpose: to open up education to all. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than two million students. The OU has a wealth of experience in delivering accessible learning ranging from its undergraduate programmes through to PhDs. It is regarded as the UK’s major e-learning institution the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. The OU has made a wealth of learning activities available across a range variety of topics, ranging from managing virtual project teams and to introduction to corporate finance.
Jane Roberts, Acting Head of OpenLearn at The Open University commented, “We are excited to be partnering with IBM for the SkillsBuild Reignite programme, sharing a curated selection of free Open University courses that will help to support jobseekers looking to upskill or reskill, as well as supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs to be best equipped in navigating through these uncertain times. By helping individuals reach their potential, we can begin to reignite the workforce and local economies”
Social Enterprise UK is the leading global authority on social enterprise and has the biggest network of social enterprises in the UK. They are a strategic partner to 6 government departments and have business relationships with some of the biggest companies in the UK to support social enterprise through their supply chains, people and networks. Their members include social enterprises, private businesses, charities and public sector organisations who support the vision of a world where social enterprise is the usual way of doing business. And they have created the world’s largest commitment to social procurement through the Buy Social Corporate Challenge
Peter Holbrook, CEO for Social Enterprise UK commented, “We’re delighted to support IBM SkillsBuild Reignite. The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for the social enterprise community but it has also been a time of great innovation with social enterprises pivoting their business models to continue their social and environmental impact and new initiatives being set up to support communities through the crisis. The IBM SkillsBuild Reignite initiative will be a fantastic resource to support both existing and the next generation of social entrepreneurs in their vital role building back better from the pandemic.
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