PONtoon

5.8 million euro Franco-British project to help tackle digital skills shortage.

The University of Portsmouth will lead a new multi-million euro project, alongside 11 partners including WSX Enterprise, that will improve the employment rates of women from disadvantaged backgrounds by developing a range of digital tools and technologies that will be used to tackle the digital skills shortage that currently exists in the UK and France.

The project will receive 4 million euros of funding from the EU funded Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.

The project, known as PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusion), will target socially excluded women who are disadvantaged by their gender and who face challenges such as single parenthood and mental health issues.

PONToon will focus on developing several digital tools that will help upskill women by improving their digital competencies and providing them with the necessary digital skills to access the labour market.

Social Innovation

The various tools will include virtual reality interviews, webinars and bespoke computer game experiences, where the game scenarios aim to engage and train users on basic and advanced ICT skills, social media usage and other digital skills. These novel forms of training are often found to be more engaging and effective than traditional methods and will help socially excluded women gain the relevant employability skills needed to support their economic inclusion.

The tools will be co-created and developed by women who currently don’t have access to digital technology. Through developing the tools they will learn additional skills on idea development, data creation and project management.

The toolkit will then be shared with service providers, job centres and local authorities enabling them to offer a more engaging and complete training offer to disadvantaged women.

Over the 3-and-a-half year lifetime of the project, the tools developed by PONToon will help train 1600 women and will see 400 participants return to work as a direct result of the training.

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