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Can a new government fund help to close tech’s diversity gap?

The government has launched a new £1m fund to equip people from underrepresented groups with the skills they need to thrive in the tech sector.

Through the Digital Skills Innovation Fund, local authorities will bid for up to £500,000 of funding for new training initiatives aimed at women, disabled people and people from lower socioeconomic areas seeking careers as data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketeers.

The government hopes that by increasing diversity in the digital economy at a local level, the new fund will help to tackle the UK’s skills shortage.

In the same announcement, ministers also unveiled plans for a new £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund to help older and disabled people acquire digital skills.

“It is crucial everyone is able to take advantage of digital technology, whether it is to learn how to use the internet or develop the skills to work in a tech role,” said Margot James, the minister for digital.

“If we want to maintain our position as a world-leading digital economy we need to work with industry, local authorities and the voluntary sector to develop solutions so no-one is left behind.”

Christine Gaskell, the chair of the local enterprise network, said local enterprise partnerships have a “vital role to play in helping people and organisations develop the skills they need to realise their potential”.

“Any initiative with the aim to make more people tech savvy and to bring more women and young people into the sector to create new start-ups and unearth the next digital superstars has to be welcomed,” Gaskell added.

Bids for the Digital Skills Innovation Fund must be submitted by 28 October 2018.