Free courses on setting up a business go live

Tuesday 25 November 2014

For those who are interested in joining or setting up a business in the digital sector, a handful of free courses have gone live.

The Digital Business Academy (DBA), an initiative supported by the government, has made the selection of eight courses available. These courses are available to anyone in the UK, regardless of age, background or pre-qualifications, and each last up to six weeks.

Areas covered include business development, finance, branding and marketing. The courses are run by industry experts and set out by top universities and business schools.

The DBA's web portal was opened by its founder, Tech City, which said that the courses would only be available in the UK and that more than 1,000 individuals have already pre-registered.

Part of the reason for this is because the portal is intended to offer a means of bridging the skills gap in the UK.

Over the next three years, a further 745,000 more workers are needed with digital skills in order to boost the UK economy. This is according to a study by O2 and Development Economics titled The Future of Digital Skills Needs in the UK Economy.

Tech City said: "Fast-growing digital businesses tell us they are not able to find the talent they need. And yet start-ups and SMEs are responsible for driving nearly half of all UK job creation. We want to help grow the talent base of the UK digital economy."

Another reason why the courses are only available in the UK at present is to ensure all participants can have access to a live educator.

Tech City promises that entrants can join a "live virtual cohort" for each of the free online courses twice a year. Here, participants can interact with educators from each of the content partners.

As such, restricting the courses to the UK will make this more manageable. Tech City hopes to test the level of response before it expands the programme so that participants from around the world can interact.

It said: "We want this pilot to be a success, and when we get there we plan to open up the Digital Business Academy internationally."

Last week, the DBA was also endorsed by prime minister David Cameron, who said that it is part of the UK's "long-term economic plan" to ensure that people in the country have "world class digital skill".

Technology at University College London will be used to power the e-learning platform. Vice-provost at the university Professor Stephen Caddick attended the DBA's launch last week.

Professor Caddick explained that DBA is "committed" to helping as many people as it can to gain business, digital technology and entrepreneurship skills.

As well as the provision of skills, there will also be a number of other services on offer from DBA. These include start-up loans, free co-working space, paid internships and free mentoring. Those services will become available to participants upon completion of their courses.

Among the businesses that have collaborated with Tech City to create the content, provide rewards and offer endorsements for DBA are the BBC, Mumsnet, Twitter and Microsoft Ventures.

By Victoria McDonnell

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