By Daniel Hunter

Tech City UK in partnership with University College London (UCL) has today (Wednesday) announced the launch of the Digital Business Academy, the world’s first government-supported online learning platform to provide digital and business skills for anyone aspiring to start, grow or join a digital business.

The programme is open to all UK residents and requires no pre-qualification.

The Digital Business Academy brings together world-class educational institutions and industry experts to give anyone in the UK free access to digital business skills.

Over 1,000 people have already signed up during the pre-registration phase to online courses from Cambridge University Judge Business School, University College London (UCL), and Founder Centric, a grass roots startup school that works with the likes of Seedcamp and Oxford University.

Every business today is digital and demand for a more digitally skilled workforce is ever more acute. A recent report suggests that Britain will need 745,000 additional workers with digital skills to meet the rising demand from employers between 2013 and 2017. Tech City UK has developed the Digital Business Academy as a direct response to this need. It is the first time a government-supported MOOC (massive open online course) has been created to give people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to excel in digital business.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Ensuring that our people and businesses have world-class digital skills so they can compete in the economy of the future is a key part of our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure a brighter future for Britain. We have put coding into the school curriculum and our rollout of superfast broadband, backed by over £1bn Government investment in our digital infrastructure, has now passed more than 1.5 million homes and businesses and is reaching 40,000 more each week. Building on this, the Digital Business Academy will open up our great universities and provide the know-how to help hardworking people get on in life, reinforcing the UK’s position as a leading digital economy.”

Baroness Joanna Shields, chair of Tech City UK and Digital Adviser to the Prime Minister, said: “Tech City UK’s Digital Business Academy represents a new revolution in education providing access to world leading universities and great digital minds for free. 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 opportunities to people irrespective of age, background or pre-qualifications. For anyone who wants to learn, we provide the practical skills you need to start your own digital business or to thrive in any digital company”.

UCL’s Vice-Provost (Enterprise & London), Professor Stephen Caddick, said: “UCL has from the very start been a strong supporter of Tech City UK and we are delighted to be a partner in the Digital Business Academy. We are committed to helping as many people as possible to acquire skills in business, digital technologies and entrepreneurship so that they can start and grow the companies that will create jobs and drive the UK economy.”

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