risual Microsoft Academy creates Centre of Excellence for Digital Skills at Derby College

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Derby College has teamed up with Microsoft’s UK Country Partner of The Year 2015, risual Limited, to open the East Midlands’ first risual Microsoft Academy. This will offer Microsoft qualifications for learners across the College, IT apprentices and employees at businesses across the region.

The risual Microsoft Academy at Derby College will offer digital skills training for students and business employees using the latest Microsoft technology and industry experts in order to improve digital literacy skills and bridge the gap between industry and education.
Derby College is only the second risual Microsoft Academy to open in the UK as part of risual education’s plans to roll out the programme and open 39 Academies over the next three years, with one exclusively in each Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area of the UK.

The new academy was opened recently at the College's Joseph Wright Campus in Derby city centre at an event attended by a wide range employers and guests including David Ralph, Chief Executive of the D2N2 LEP and Richard Zaltzman, Public Sector Director for Small and Mid-Market Solutions and Partners from Microsoft. The academy directly addresses the D2N2’s priorities to improve digital skills in the region and drive growth through providing students with the skills they need to join the workforce.

Under the risual Microsoft Academy, staff at the College will be trained by industry experts in the latest software with a member of staff in each subject sector area trained to become a Microsoft Certified Educator.

Apprenticeship frameworks will be revolutionised to include Microsoft vendor units delivered by risual supported by classroom based learning at Derby College.

Students across the College will have access to special training programmes to gain the latest Microsoft Office specialist qualifications to improve their digital literacy and boost their job prospects.

These will also be available to local businesses with training courses through the College’s Roundhouse Thinking division both at College and in the workplace.

Mike Morris, Microsoft UK’s Business Manager in Further Education and Skills explained: “Research shows that there will be a 740,000 shortfall in IT professionals in the UK by 2017 which shows the importance of investing in digital skills now.

“We are aiming to establish a UK-wide Associate Colleges programme and this Academy is the first step in Derby College achieving that status.

“This will be an example for the rest of the UK and indeed the world of how industry and education can work together to enhance the employability of young people and create sustainable growth.”

Chris Clifford, Director of risual Education continued: “As Microsoft’s number one partner in the UK, we are committed to opening 12 of these academies over the next year, with 39 over the next 3 years, one in each LEP area, in a bid to increase the digital literacy of the workforce now and in the future.

“There are more than 1.2 billion users of Microsoft across the world and employers tell us that they need such skills in their workforce, we will therefore be working with students, apprentices and employees in all business sectors to ensure they have the skills that they need for their organisations to grow.

“We partnered with Derby College because of their commitment to improving digital literacy – recognising that it has equal importance to English and Maths right across the academic and vocational curriculum in order to make our students effective citizens and members of the workforce.”

Derby College Chief Executive Mandie Stravino concluded: “The launch of the risual Microsoft Academy fits perfectly with our purpose of predicting and serving the needs of our learners, the economy and society. 

“These state of the art facilities at the College are a fantastic resource for our learners and for employees in the regional workforce.

“It will greatly enhance the employability of our learners and apprentices and will provide employers with the skills they need to improve their competitive edge.”

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