Digital Skills Partnership


About the Digital Skills Partnership

The Heart of the South West Digital Skills Partnership was launched in June 2018, bringing together the public, private and third sector to tackle the digital skills divide in Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. Forming part of a pilot of, six Local Digital Skills Partnerships (LDSP), announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Our local partnership is responsible for coordinating and delivering a digital strategy that raises digital skills for our community, working to eradicate social and geographical imbalances to ensure everyone has access to digital services. The partnership also focuses on workplace mobility; ensuring the right digital training is available for young people, those outside of the workforce, work returners, employees looking to retrain and supports a workplace where the regions highly skilled digital employees can continue to learn. We work closely with the regions education providers to ensure young people are aware of the diverse range of careers and are supported to enter into digital jobs, and that teaching staff are supported to teach digital subjects that keep pace with new technologies.

We work in tandem with the National Digital Skills Partnership Board to ensure that the Government’s UK Digital Strategy is responsive to local needs and in return the local area can make the most of national opportunities, sector analysis to inform delivery, cross-government department collaboration and funding opportunities to overcome digital challenges.

Phil Smith, co-chair of the National Digital Skills Board said of the digital challenge “We are at a pivotal point. Technological developments are transforming the way we live and work. Our ability to continue on a path of innovation will be determined by our commitment as a nation to ensuring that everyone has the skills they need to support, and benefit from, a thriving digital economy.”

The Partnership consists of 25 partners representing the public, private and third sector who meet bi-monthly. The partnership is supported by a Partnership Manager who is responsible for translating the partnerships ambition into tangible delivery on the ground that meets the needs of the region, delivering the Digital Skills Action Plan for 2019 onwards.

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      David Ralph

      Chief Executive

      David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

      Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

      David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.