Two former teachers have jumped from the world of white boards and marking into the world of Microsoft and training.
Jayne Muspratt and Bev Cowperthwaite took a step away from the ‘classroom’ to set up their own business in September 2017.
Launched in March 2018, Cheshire Digital Skills Academy is a new and exciting company aiming to address the digital skills gap in Chester, and the surrounding areas.
Digital skills are becoming increasingly essential for getting access to a range of products and services.
However, it’s reported there is a digital divide where up to 12.6 million of the adult UK population lack basic digital skills, an estimated 5.8 million people have never used the internet at all.
This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP.
Jayne and Bev want to eradicate these figures.
“Having been made redundant from West Cheshire College, we decided to transform our business idea into our next full-time occupation,” said Bev, who taught IT for 10 years.
“During our teaching careers, we were graded outstanding teachers by Ofsted which gave us a strong base framework for setting up our own training business.
“The Riverside Innovation Centre helped us to take the idea forward.”
The Riverside Innovation Centre is the University of Chester's city centre facility dedicated to developing business potential.
Located at the University's Riverside Campus on the River Dee, this vibrant hub offers business office space and professional conferencing and meeting facilities.
“Each day can be different, and schedules vary, but we always have our kettle on first thing for our students and new enquirers,” said Jayne, who taught IT for 16 years.
“Currently we do a lot of one-to-one training for individuals and companies at our base in the Riverside Innovation Centre.
“It’s also great because we work alongside various companies with like-minded individuals so great for networking.”
Cheshire Digital Skills Academy gains ‘huge support’ from the University of Chester, which has enabled them to achieve its digital vision for Cheshire; the company has also provided three placements for the university since its launch.
“Unlike some private training companies, we are highly qualified teachers who deliver training with passion and enthusiasm,” said Bev.
“We have the skills, expertise and techniques which will differentiate, stretch and challenge our learners giving everyone the digital skills they need to fully participate in society.
“We specialise in Microsoft Office and cater for all levels of IT abilities from beginner through to advanced.”
Both Bev and Jayne agree that having an influence on a person’s future is the most satisfying part of their job.
“As teachers’, we are giving people the digital skills they need to succeed,” said Bev.
“It’s rewarding to see our students build self-esteem and enjoy the atmosphere we have created for them which is not stuck in an academic regime.”
Jayne added: “The training is current and relevant to their individual needs.
“It is fulfilling to be working towards making a real difference to the digital future of our community.”
Whilst setting up the business, Bev and Jayne gained some ‘much needed’ advice from Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers.
“We have recently joined Ellis & Co as a client, but before this they gave us lots of information,” said Bev.
“John Moorhouse has been extremely supportive and highly approachable; nothing is too much trouble.
“It gave us confidence in him and trust in the company.
“Also, we love the fact everything financial is covered including payroll and we don’t have to worry we have missed something.
“We would highly recommend them.”
It looks set to be a busy 12 months for Cheshire Digital Skills Academy, who hope to be working with more businesses in the area to help them improve their productivity.
For further information about Cheshire Digital Skills Academy click here.