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SELEP Skills COVID-19 Recovery Fund

The SELEP COVID-19 Recovery Funds Programme is a £4.4m programme of support in the areas of business support and skills. It will be used to support the recovery of the economy in 2021, investing directly in those areas across the South East most affected by the pandemic, and providing businesses with the tools they need to build back stronger.

As part of this funding programme, £2m was earmarked for the Skills COVID-19 Recovery Fund, which has been split into three separate programmes to ensure that the funds are being put to best use, the details of which are listed below.

  • The SELEP Digital Bridge
  • SELEP Digital Skills Programme
  • SELEP COVID Recovery Academy

The SELEP Digital Bridge

Digital skills to support you to get back into work within the South East


We Are Digital is one of the UK’s leading digital skills and inclusion training providers, helping and supporting people to get back into work.

What is it?

Training + Equipment + Internet Access

This is aimed at providing kit, connectivity and access to basic digital training where this is a barrier to work or training.

  • Online digital training sessions
  • A tablet and/or data sim card for eligible customers
  • Multi-channel digital skills service which can be accessed via phone, remote trainer, 1:1 in-home and local group centre support across the SELEP region

Who is it for?

This is targeted at those in the SELEP region, who have become unemployed or redundant as a result of COVID-19 and are at risk of digital exclusion.

To be eligible, individuals must be based in the SELEP geography and have a clear need for digital kit and/or connectivity that is preventing access to work and training. Individuals will be unemployed or economically inactive.

How to get involved

Find out more

What will it cover?

You will learn and gain skills in:

  • How use the internet to search for jobs
  • How to find the right agencies and employers
  • How to build their CVs online
  • How to conduct a job interview online
  • How do use online apps and tools for interviews

We’ll also support with:

  • Filling out and submitting online job application forms
  • Covering letters
  • Device and internet access if needed
  • And much more…

SELEP Digital Skills Programme

Provider: Tech Talent Academy

What is it?

Provide 200 individuals with:

  • Training to level 4 in software, data, cyber and cloud skills
  • Certification upon completion (in partnership with BCS, Microsoft and AWS)

Following completion of the course, graduates will be offered a pathway into entry-level jobs in the most in-demand roles as determined by cross sector research on digital and tech skills gaps, through a programme of employer partnerships.

Who is it aimed at?

Helping SELEP based individuals – particularly those from typically disadvantaged communities – enjoy successful careers in tech. This includes (but is not limited to) those:

  • who have faced barriers to inclusion through socio-economic disadvantages
  • who are unemployed as a result of the pandemic
  • who are female and/or female identifying
  • from ethnically minoritized communities
  • who are neurodivergent
  • who haven’t been encouraged in school to study technical subjects who haven’t had the opportunity to attend university

What is the criteria?

Individuals must be based in the SELEP geography and have a clear need for training for digital roles that will help them to secure employment in digital roles. Individuals will be unemployed or economically inactive.

How can it be accessed?

There will be a web page to access support and referrals will take place via social marketing and through key stakeholders such as Job Centre Plus and local authorities.

How will end users be identified?

Working with Job Centre Plus, local authorities and social media, and connecting into the Digital Skills Partnership network and inclusivity group.

Communications plan to be shared but will include:

  • Targeted marketing campaigns within each location
  • Paid-for digital advertising
  • Print and online advertising with local media outlets, e.g. Sussex Live
  • Geotargeted display advertising
  • Geotargeted email campaigns

What will it cover?

A training and career pathway programme for individuals in the SELEP region who face barriers to employment or are at risk of unemployment.

Training to Level 4 Standard in:

  • Software
  • Data
  • Cyber
  • Cloud

200 individuals to receive training with at least 150 securing employment.

Provider lead: Nasir Lakhanpal, Tech Talent Academy​

Find out more

SELEP COVID Recovery Academy

Provider: Shaw Trust (Also supported with Essex CC funding)

What is it?

A training and skills programme for 1,002 people, recently unemployed or redundant due the impact of COVID-19.

Who is it aimed at?

Evidence shows that pre-COVID disadvantaged areas, low paid workforce and ethnic minority groups, were disproportionately impacted. Sectors hit hardest include non-food retail, and hospitality/tourism. Shaw Trust will also provide training for individuals recently unemployed/redundant.

What is the criteria?

Individuals must be based in the SELEP geography and have a clear need for training to upskill that will help them to secure employment in priority sectors. Individuals will be unemployed or economically inactive.

How can it be accessed?

There will be a web page to access support and referrals will take place via social marketing and through key stakeholders such as Job Centre Plus and local authorities. Follow the link below to access the page.

How will end users be identified?

Shaw Trust will engage/reach target groups, e.g. unemployed who have worked in impacted sectors (e.g. retail/hospitality) through local marketing/e-marketing campaigns/skills shows.

Shaw Trust will accept referrals from across SELEP/groups however to make the biggest impact they will target specific areas/cities/towns/groups most affected by Covid-19. Referral pathways include:

  • self-referrals;
  • existing employability programmes e.g. JETS, National Careers Service (NCS); and
  • referral partners including 34 Jobcentres Local Authorities and Local Partners e.g. Family Mosaic.

There will be added value to complementary programmes e.g. WHP, JETS, NCS, integrate with local programmes e.g. LiveWell Kent and support providers e.g. Princes Trust, creating a reciprocal referral relationship for those needing additional/alternative support and therefore avoid duplication.

What will it cover?

Shaw Trust have designed the academy to support individuals to learn new skills and achieve industry relevant qualifications and to move into employment within key growth sectors.

The academy will offer a tailored programme of courses reflecting the recruitment requirements of employers across the SELEP region.

The academies will be staffed by a dedicated team providing person-centred and holistic learning, employment, and wellbeing support to the individuals. Training will be delivered digitally through e-learning platform Skills Network/live classroom teaching over Microsoft Teams.

There will also be face-to-face training across nine fixed sites e.g., Canterbury Road, Ashford and 19 established co-location sites with strong public transport links, ensuring equitable geographic coverage and access across SELEP.

Provider lead:  Provider Lead Jacqui Oughton, Shaw Trust Operation lead Natasha Church

Find out more

Watch our recent webinar, with Covid Recovery Fund Programme leads presenting information about their respective programmes

Louise Aitken (Skills Lead, SELEP) and Jo Simmons (Business Development Manager, SELEP) today opened up our latest webinar session, introducing representatives of organisations delivering our Covid Recovery Fund programmes, each presenting information for individuals and potential referral agencies about their respective activities. Watch the recording back to find out how you can get help, in terms of digital kit and connectivity and basic digital skills, digital skills for work, digital support for your business and staff or help to start your new business.