Finalist category: Digital Skills Award 2014
The Digital Youth Academy’s (DYA’s) vision is simple – to match the inherent digital and social media skills of young people with businesses that require them. Founder Penny Power, OBE, identified significant issues and skills gaps in the UK market, including a lack of structured qualifications in social digital media; a lack of skills providers able to deliver high-quality digital learning outcomes which enhance the employability of learners and the productivity of employers; and the digital capability and skills shortages within SMEs. She also found that a substantial number of young people who were currently out of education and employment held existing skills in this area.
The Digital Youth Academy was formed in 2011 as a solution to Penny’s research findings and to develop a suite of Social and Digital Media qualifications, training programmes, resources and delivery materials that allowed young people to formalise their digital and social media skills, enabling them to become highly skilled individuals with qualifications recognised by employers which lead to a sustainable career path in the sector. This has supported a reduction in the number of young people who are unemployed and not in any kind of education or training programme, connected learners with digital skills to employers with digital demands, supported business growth and the wider economy through digital up-skilling, and utilised young people as the core solution in supporting businesses.
As part of the aforementioned products, DYA has created digital and social media solutions to support young people who are unemployed (NEET) through a progression route to a Social Digital Apprenticeship. DYA’s latest initiative, Youth Web Builders, offers young people practical work experience supporting businesses with the creation of a functional website and a qualification in ‘Setting up a Business Online’. It is estimated that half of the UK’s charities and over a third of its SMEs either don’t have a website or have one with limited functionality, Youth Web Builders provides a win-win for both parties.
Over the last 18 months, the DYA has helped to support over 250 young people aged 16-24 into employment, matching them with SMEs who need to expand and operate in the world of modern day digital business marketing.