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Greater Manchester uses tech contract to harness social value

  • Tech partners make bold investments in social value initiatives that support Greater Manchester’s Digital Blueprint
  • Partners of the GM One Network programme, Cisco and Telent, have employed 15 new apprentices, with more on the way, and hosted 95 work experience placements
  • Improvements enhance Greater Manchester’s position as a world leading digital city-region

Tech companies across the region are levelling social-value investments in apprenticeships, mentoring opportunities and initiatives to tackle the digital divide.

Partners of the Greater Manchester (GM) One Network are delivering on social value commitments including apprenticeships and other training opportunities, community volunteering, and a blueprint to securely connect up social spaces in the future.

As part of the GM One Network programme, private sector partners Cisco and Telent made several social value commitments, supporting Greater Manchester’s Digital Blueprint, including 28 new apprentices, with 15 apprenticeships already in place across the region. The apprenticeships cover a range of technical roles, including engineering, marketing and project specialists. Telent (external website) is set to embark on a new recruitment drive for future apprentices as part of the programme.

Cisco (external website) experienced a record number of applications for this year’s regional work experience programme, giving students a glimpse inside the various areas of the tech company including sales, marketing, cybersecurity and networking. Students from 23 schools across the region applied to take part, with 70 students being taken on during the first year of the project, and another 25 ready to start next week. They will develop soft skills such as team working, time management and communication. Students will also work on a team Dragons Den project throughout the week, and on the final day they will present their idea to the Cisco Dragons.

Under the GM One Network contract, 2,225 hours of volunteering hours have been invested into the communities of Greater Manchester, running IntoUniversity workshops, Foodtruck runs with Fareshare, and schools career events.

A T-Level industry placement programme is currently being hosted in Greater Manchester. There are four GM students participating in the first year of the programme which kicked off in January 2024. The six weeks programme aims to give ten students each year insight into the tech industry.

In late 2023, residents in Smallbridge, Rochdale, were the first to benefit from free connectivity and donated technology, via digital skills workshops and drop-in sessions. Another three community sites across the region have now been identified to benefit from the same free connectivity and tech support. A scaleable blueprint has also been produced to ensure the secure connection of community sites - with a mix of technology and services including internet security and the resources to manage the installation.

Cllr Nick Peel, GMCA Lead for Digital, said: "We’re ensuring Greater Manchester has the digital infrastructure needed to be a world class digital city-region. To achieve this, we’re drawing on our relationships with private sector partners to achieve strong social value outcomes of real benefit to our people across the region. I’m pleased to hear apprenticeships, work experience placements and pathway programmes like T-Levels are now benefitting our residents across the region.

“Harnessing infrastructure in this way aligns to our ambition for Greater Manchester to become one of the first city-regions in the world to equip our residents with the skills, connectivity and technology to get online, ensuring our people can benefit for the opportunities that digital brings."

GM One Network is an exciting programme that will act as a catalyst for many smart city projects and unlock further delivery of priorities in line with the Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint and the city-region’s position as world leading digital city-region. The programme will build on Greater Manchester’s Local Full Fibre Network, which has already delivered over 2,000km of new fibreoptic broadband infrastructure across the region. With the core network completed, several test sites have been migrated to the new network, with full migration commencing in late February. Greater Manchester Combined Authority is working with partners including the region’s 10 local authorities, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue, Transport for Greater Manchester and others to provide faster and more resilient data connections to up to 1,500 public sites across the city region, including education settings community centres.

More on Greater Manchester's Digital Blueprint.

Article Published: 08/02/2024 15:47 PM