Andy Burnham announces revival of the GM Technology fund

27th January 2021, 5:38 pm

Andy Burnham last week announced the revival of the GM Technology Fund as an emergency response for collective action and to appeal to businesses to help support young people in Greater Manchester, as we anticipate that there are up to 20,000 young people in schools and colleges that will be left further isolated by the current lockdown regardless of the Government’s support for schools and parents.

For background, the Greater Manchester Technology Fund was set up last April as an emergency response to the pandemic, to channel support to digitally-excluded young people across the region continue their learning, and importantly, stay connected with schools and support services. Whilst there were schemes rolled out nationally to support vulnerable people in the medical sense of vulnerability, there was a clear gap in provision to support young people in schools, so the GM Tech Fund was set up to enable GM to act at pace to get devices and data packages to young people across the region through schools as well as working with local authorities to respond to the emergent need. As the nation has been put into further lockdown, it is important that we rally the support of the region to help address vulnerability and channel support to address needs at pace.

The pandemic has highlighted the inequalities that exist locally, nationally and globally, and hence Greater Manchester saw the need to drive the Digital Inclusion Agenda for Change, to create a framework and action plan to address barriers to digital exclusion. New analysis from the GMCA has found that less than half of young learners in need of a device have so far been supported. The GMCA estimates that the national programme may support up to 80,000 remote learners in the region, but this will still leave 15,000-20,000 young people in need of a device, including a large proportion of the 6,000 16-18-year-old college learners who are estimated to be digitally-excluded. In addition, the Technology Fund has partnered with Business in the Community which means it can now also accept repurposed technology to support this drive, as well as financial contributions so we can source devices and data packages.

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