Collaborative partnership drives the next generation of diverse digital talent

Digital training consultancy IN4 Group is working in partnership with BAE Systems to support the growth of diverse talent across Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Seventy graduates from the IN4.0 talent academy, part of IN4.0 Group, are working with BAE Systems on digital technology projects related to areas including artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, the internet of things, robotics and automation.

BAE Systems is supporting the initiative by providing individual mentoring and coaching from a senior leader, guidance and advice on industrial projects from an expert engineer and insight into a career in the advanced manufacturing and technology sector.

The IN4.0 talent academy aims to address the digital skills gaps across Lancashire and Greater Manchester by working with employers to recruit digital talent from diverse backgrounds, creating inclusive opportunities for those who may not otherwise have access.

In response to this diversity challenge, the academy is represented by 50% women, over 50% of graduates are from a BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) background and over 25% are the first generation of their family to attend university.

With offices at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and the recently established digital innovation hub IN4.0 with the Landing at MediaCityUK, IN4.0 has been working with BAE Systems for over two years, having previously collaborated on IN4.0 Access, a disruptive innovation skills accelerator.

The IN4.0 talent academy is a 12-week specialist digital skills training programme funded by the Fast Track Fund, in partnership with the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS), the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). The course is free to students and offers training and benefits worth over £6,000, including a guaranteed interview with employers.

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4.0 Group, said: “We are really pleased to continue working with BAE Systems, and as the developer of some of the UK’s most technically advanced defence, aerospace and security technologies, it is perfectly placed to offer our graduates valuable experience of the industrial ecosystem.”

“We see an opportunity for the IN4.0 talent academy to readdress the challenge of diversity across sectors, and to empower graduates with the technical expertise and soft skills they need to enter a workplace with confidence. A combination of highly skilled talent and technology is the key to unlocking digital transformation and future-proofing businesses post Covid-19, and our partnerships with regional universities and employers in the North are vital to this success.”

Prof Andy Schofield, Technology Delivery Director at BAE Systems, said “This is a fantastic initiative that fully supports the drive to ensure that the UK has world-class design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities for the future. The IN4.0 talent academy provides a unique opportunity for the students to experience at first hand some of the challenges industry faces and how emerging technologies, such as additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics, robotics and automation, the industrial Internet of Things and connectivity and virtual and augmented reality are key to shaping the future.”

“The programme also offers the opportunity for the students to receive guidance and advice regarding their industrial project and the availability of a senior leader within BAE Systems to offer individual mentoring and coaching. Our aim is to provide the graduates to experience the opportunities that are offered with a career in advanced manufacturing technology across the full industrial ecosystem and an invitation for the local supply chain companies to be introduced to the students.”

“Ultimately, the IN4.0 talent academy is part of a series of initiatives all focused on delivering benefits for the North and building capabilities fit for the next century.” 

Steve Fogg, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The importance of ensuring we have a workforce with the skills necessary for our businesses to capitalise on the opportunities arising from artificial intelligence, automation and digitisation cannot be underestimated. These are the skills which will ensure Lancashire businesses are operating at maximum efficiency to increase productivity and competitiveness within increasingly challenging markets. I am delighted BAE Systems is working in partnership with IN4.0 to address digital skills gaps, particularly amongst females and those from a BAME background. Young people, from whatever their background, are the future of our industries but it is they who have unfortunately been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. I hope we see more collaborative working in the future to inspire the next generation to obtain the skills which they and business need to succeed.”

Once students graduate from the academy, they will be qualified Amazon Cloud Practitioners and members of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Graduates will be ‘work-ready’ with a blend of technical, engineering and personal skills so they are prepared to support businesses with adopting digital technologies.

The next academy intake for January 2021, funded by the Department for Education, is open to those aged 19-30 from Lancashire and Greater Manchester, who have been unemployed due to the pandemic and are looking to upskill in cloud engineering and data analytics.

If you would like to apply for the academy you can find more information and apply here:

If you’re an employer interested in accessing digital talent, please visit: