Digital Gum, the new programme that helps apprentices and return-to-work parents upgrade their digital skills, opens its third intake in January.

The employability training programme, supported by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, was launched in September by ConnectTVT founder, Louize Clarke.

Developing #skillsthatstick, Digital Gum is a six-week course designed to help returners, apprentices and small businesses develop the in-demand skills they need to thrive in the region’s growing digital economy.

“Digital explorers” are immersed in bi-weekly sessions, from social media marketing, app design and coding through to video content, VR and SEO.

Explorers are coached and supported to create practical, real-world content, including how to write great CVs, grow social media accounts and produce social marketing content. Working together also vitally helps returners, apprentices, or those looking to start their own business grow their confidence.

Skills for a Tech Nation The course also features modules from digital experts and leaders from across the Thames Valley including Dragon Den winner, Nick Coleman, from Snaffling Pig, Gossip Girl founder Rachel Bradley and SEO start-up Blue Array founder Simon Schneiders.

A total of 80 students will be taken through the programme.

Earlier this month, the Government shortlisted Reading within its set of Tech Nation clusters, a nation-wide network of digital excellence.

“The Thames Valley’s always had the reputation for being a hub for tech businesses. As a recognised tech cluster, it’s more vital than ever we invest in the skills that people actually need in the digital workplace," says founder Louize.

"We’ve been overwhelmed by Digital Gum’s success so far, the lives we’re starting to change. 2018 is all about taking it to the next level.”

Digital for tomorrow Debbie Race was one of Digital Gum’s first alumni and is now looking for a role in user experience. She says, “I invested in Digital Gum as I wanted to build my confidence to return to the workplace and extend my professional network. The course exceeded my expectations - I learnt so many new skills and I met some great, inspiring people. It’s given me the self-belief and motivation I needed to further my career and I’m actively looking at opportunities in this area. For anyone thinking about it, I’d say “Go for it!””

Debbie has already completed work experience with local tech business, Aditinet UK, to help build her CV.

David Parry-Jones, Director and Technology Lead for Thames Valley Berkshire LEP said: “One of the key reasons why companies choose to locate in Berkshire is the availability of tech talent. We need to ensure we have a strong supply of new tech talent to help our innovative start-ups achieve their growth potential and create wealth for the local area.”

“We are delighted to have invested in Digital Gum as one of six digital tech initiatives we have supported across the LEP area with funding of over £6m. Along with Digital Gum, investment in superfast broadband, Thames Valley Science Park, Reading SMART Cities cluster , will help retain Berkshire retain its position as the UK's number one digital tech cluster.”

To apply, visit or connect through @wearedigitalgum (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).