Our Role in Manchester's Tech Boom

Fast track cyber training programme is teaching future digital skills

Greater Manchester’s tech sector continues to adapt and grow, despite current global challenges. Raytheon Professional Services is helping bring welcome opportunities for businesses and jobseekers in the region.

The global pandemic has shone light on the U.K. digital divide and highlighted the importance of training people for the jobs of the future. Greater Manchester is rising to the occasion, having invested £250,000 in a government-backed digital skills partnership with Raytheon Technologies cybersecurity training arm Raytheon Professional Services to launch a Fast Track Cyber Training programme in the U.K.

“Greater Manchester is fast becoming a digital hub, which has, in turn, created a growing demand for specialist digital roles to help support the local economy,” said Mark Oliver, managing director for Raytheon Professional Services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The initiative supports the wider U.K. government cyber strategy and the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund – a £3 million joint venture between Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership to deliver a broader access to sustainable careers in tech through quality skills training.

RPS is training local jobseekers in cybersecurity and software development – a blended course that supports several routes into tech careers.

“This will create digital opportunities for a range of groups that may not currently have access to them, including Black and minority ethnic communities, unemployed or underemployed individuals, women and ex-armed forces personnel,” Oliver said.

With only 15 per cent of the U.K.’s cyber industry roles held by women, Janet from Oldham is one of several female participants on this year’s course. After losing her job due to the pandemic, she enrolled in the programme to take advantage of the downtime to upskill in digital.

“It will be nice to learn how to secure systems and help the community. In cybersecurity the activities involved are varied so I feel working as a cybersecurity professional every day will be different,” she said. Janet hopes to secure a cybersecurity apprenticeship after completing the course.

Stu from Failsworth is due to leave the Army. He’s hoping that his transferrable military skills and the cyber academy training will help him find employment in Manchester’s booming digital industry.

“I am hoping to gain the foundational skills and certification required of a cybersecurity engineer. I am enjoying building on my varied knowledge of each of the subjects touched on so far,” he said.

Georgia, who worked in the tourism industry in Greece, saw the current economic situation in Europe as the catalyst for a career change.

“Computer science was always a hobby,” she said, “the situation with COVID-19 was an opportunity for me to improve my skills in something that I love.”

Greater Manchester is already home to the largest digital cluster outside London – 8,000 digital and creative businesses employing more than 82,000 people – generating £4.1 billion of economic growth annually.

As a key digital employer itself in the Greater Manchester region, Raytheon UK is contributing to the region’s growth into one of Europe’s largest digital hubs.

The company recently signed the Salford City Mayor’s Charter for Employment Standards to support the local economy. The charter highlights Raytheon UK’s commitment to investing in the local Salford (an area of Greater Manchester) workforce and providing training and employment opportunities for Salford people, particularly those from disadvantaged communities.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “Salford is establishing itself as a leading city for digital enterprise – digital skills are critical to this success and will create new opportunities for residents and communities... This support combined with the announcement of the Fast Track Cyber Training programme shows how businesses in Salford are working towards creating accessible routes into better quality digital employment for Salford residents.”

RPS and Raytheon UK’s investments are critical to sowing the seeds of post-pandemic economic recovery. They will help residents like Georgia, Stu and Janet secure rewarding, long-term roles in cybersecurity and software development.