Local Digital Skills Partnerships (Local DSPs) bring together businesses, charities, and public sector organisations to tackle local digital skills challenges. Supported by the DSP, these partnerships are working to build thriving and inclusive local economies. This week, we're introducing the Regional Coordinators for each of the first three Local DSPs.
Hi, my name is Catherine Perry and I am delighted to be the newly-appointed Regional Coordinator of the West Midlands Local Digital Skills Partnerships (DSP). I have over 15 years’ experience working in economic regeneration, prior to which I worked as a producer / project manager for a variety of creative digital companies. I am really passionate about working to address digital skill shortages and upskill the population of the West Midlands; I see this as a key driver in improving people’s life chances and quality of life.
From Biology to digital skills
After studying Biology and Visual Studies at University, I began my career as a researcher and then producer for a small games company in the Black Country. This led onto a series of ‘edutainment’ titles followed by working for an agency providing web solutions for SMEs and corporates.
After that I worked in a variety of roles in the field of economic regeneration, supporting people to improve their skills, providing opportunities for learning and participation which resulted in improvement to the places where they lived. While working as the lead for Groundwork in Wolverhampton, I coordinated the Trusts’ activity across their youth engagement, education and training programmes, often working with some of the hardest to reach people in some of the most deprived areas of the country.
More recently I worked as part of the strategic funding team at Wolverhampton City Council and had the opportunity to lead a 2-year European project entitled Gen-Y City!, part of URBACT, a programme aimed at fostering sustainable integrated urban development in cities across Europe. As well as sharing best practice, participant cities produced strategies to retain and attract young people. It was vital to recognise the importance of raising aspirations and developing opportunities and pathways for people to access training and employment in order to retain creative and tech talent. Equally important was the need to support tech businesses to grow, developing the skills and nurturing the talent of their staff so that they could provide opportunities for and benefit from the diverse population of the West Midlands.
The role of Regional Coordinator
The role of Regional Coordinator for the West Midlands Local DSP really appealed to me as an opportunity to bring together the range of experience I’ve had throughout my career. I’m convinced that improving digital skills is one of the key ways for us to improve productivity and increase competitiveness of the region. The West Midlands DSP will provide exciting and creative employment opportunities, helping us to retain talented individuals, grow the local economy and provide a healthy tech ecosystem for the next generation.
The West Midlands Digital Skills Partnership was launched by the West-Midlands Mayor Andy Street on the 6th of December 2018, just as I joined the team. I’ve been delighted to see how much is already happening all over the West Midlands. Part of the challenge for the Local DSP is to coordinate and communicate this fantastic range of activity. We’ll be striving to push the boundaries, find new and innovative training opportunities and make them available to people across the whole of the region and all communities. I look forward to sharing updates with you on various digital skills projects that will be taking place in the coming months.