A NEW £3million fund has been launched for firms in Bolton to support more training in specialist digital skills for local people.

Businesses, training providers, colleges and universities are being encouraged to work together to apply for grants of up to £180,000 from the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund to run innovative digital training schemes linked to hard to fill jobs that need digital skills

The fund is a joint venture between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership.

The aim is to empower employers and training providers in Lancashire to co-design and co-deliver short, innovative, bespoke training programmes to meet their specialist digital skills needs.

The programme will diversify the digital talent pipeline by using flexible models to train a wide range of different groups for digital roles.

Cllr David Molyneux, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority's resources lead and Wigan Council leader, said: "Developing digital skills and building on the success of Greater Manchester technology industry is a key part of both the city region's industrial strategy and Deal 2030.

"This funding opportunity is a great way to develop invaluable skills in the workforce and set your business up for future growth.

"We're encouraging any firms to attend this information event so that we can link you up with relevant partner organisations to help give you the best chance of securing a slice of the funding."

Mike Blackburn, Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership Steering Group chairman, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to drive up digital skills in Lancashire, ensuring local firms have access to the skilled workers they need to fuel innovation and stay at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution.

"In order to access funding, we are looking for innovative collaborations between employers and providers. We'd encourage potential applicants to start considering what they would like to gain from the fund, to talk to potential partners

Margot James, the Digital Minister, added: "We want everyone to benefit from the digital revolution and by working in partnership with businesses, educators and public sector we’re giving people the skills they need to succeed in the future.

"Greater Manchester has a thriving and growing tech sector and through our modern Industrial Strategy we're helping to make the UK one of the world's most digitally skilled nations. I encourage all interested to apply for a share of the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund.”

Applications must be lodged before the end of January.