Digital Business Academy Debuts Online Courses


Tech City UK and University College London have released the first government funded digital skills course called the Digital Business Academy.

The online program utilizes UCL's UCLeXtend platform and includes courses from UCL, Cambridge University Judge Business School, and Founder Centric, writes Ben Woods for The Next Web. 

The MOOC will help to fill the UK's current digital skills gap. According to reports 745,000 workers with digital skills will be needed between 2013 and 2017.

There will be eight, free courses that focus on the business development, marketing and finance aspects of working in a tech business. None of the courses teach coding. There are already initiatives that focus of coding education. This program will compliment those, reports Dylan Baker for Tech City News.

Baroness Joanna Shields, chair of Tech City UK, added:

"Whether you are a mother returning to the workplace or a new graduate full of ideas, securing top-notch digital and technical skills is essential. The Digital Business Academy will open up digital careers to people irrespective of age, background or pre-qualifications."

The 400,000 GBP that it took to fund the Digital Business Academy is entirely public money, taken specifically from the UK government Business, Innovation, and Skills department's budget.

There are more than 35 industry partners including BBC, O2 Think Big, Unruly, Ogilvy Labs, and Microsoft Ventures, writes Natasha Lomas for Tech Crunch. They will be the ones spear heading the marketing for the program. Many of the companies are offering paid internships, mentorship opportunities, free co-working space, specialist content, and start up support. Any person who completes the program is eligible to apply for any of the awards.

"This is a platform where not only are you able to learn the latest skills in digital business but you're also getting access to potential employers as well as partners who will help you with your idea," said Tech City CEO Gerard Grech, discussing the launch of the Academy in an interview with TechCrunch. "It's the next wave in how we're seeing MOOCs [massively open online courses] evolve in providing people with opportunities as much as possible."

Some people are critical of government money going to a "boutique" set of free and niche courses at a time when students are protesting the ever rising tuition fees for traditional higher education in the UK.

The reasoning aside from the obvious difference in price to fund online courses and traditional face-to-face learning is that these courses better-meet the demands of current employers. Workers with digital skills are what employers are looking for now, and it's what these courses will give them.

1,500 people have already signed up during pre-registration for the online courses, reports Caroline Preece for It Pro.

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