The power of skills bootcamps: A Revolution in upskilling

West Midlands Combined Authority

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2023 Growth Through People campaign.

In today's fast-paced and ever-changing labour market, it’s essential that people have access to quick and efficient ways to upskill and enhance their careers.

The West Midlands Combined Authority recognised this need and took the initiative by piloting an accelerated digital Skills Bootcamp programme in 2019. This innovative scheme was designed to provide residents with the necessary training and skills to move into new digital roles, and it has been a resounding success.

The Skills Bootcamp model in the West Midlands works by bringing training providers and employers together to develop a bespoke training programme. This approach has been instrumental in breaking down the stigma associated with the requirement for employees to have more than two years of experience and qualifications to match.

The course is delivered over a maximum of 16 weeks and has seen over 1500 residents with non-tech or limited tech backgrounds move into software development, data analytics, and programming roles, among others. The average salary for these positions is more than £30,000, with some earning up to £75,000.

The success of the West Midlands Skills Bootcamp programme has not gone unnoticed, and the Department for Education has adopted the model and committed to funding £90 million annually. This investment will see the West Midlands benefit from an additional £15.15 million investment, offering 4,350 new places to residents.

Skills Bootcamps offer a unique opportunity for employers to access a talented workforce that can meet their specific needs quickly. There will always be a need for qualifications and degrees, but this gives employers access to a talent pipeline that can meet their exact requirements.

They are ideal for individuals who are looking to increase their earning potential or make a complete career change. The flexibility of Skills Bootcamps also means that they can be accessed outside of traditional teaching hours, so working, caring, or life responsibilities shouldn't get in the way.

As more and more businesses in the West Midlands region begin to engage with Skills Bootcamps, confidence in the talent they produce is growing. Major employers like Goldman Sachs, CapGemini, Gymshark, and Sainsbury's have all connected with training providers to access a diverse talent pipeline.

The statistics speak for themselves: over 50 per cent of bootcampers are women and over 50 per cent are from an ethnic minority background, both of which are highly underrepresented in digital roles.

The West Midlands has identified high-priority sectors for growth, including retrofit, health, green and sustainability, as well as advanced manufacturing, engineering and logistics from April 2023. To support this growth, the region has worked with employers, providers, and funders to increase its Skills Bootcamp offerings in these areas.

To summarise, Skills Bootcamps are a powerful tool in the fight against economic cost of living crisis and provide a flexible and efficient way for residents and employers to upskill and grow their careers. With the continued expansion of Skills Bootcamps across the country and the backing of the Department for Education, the future is bright for those looking to upskill and enhance their careers.

For a full list of Skills Bootcamps available in the West Midlands, visit the official government website.


Louise is the Senior Delivery Manager for Higher Level Skills at the West Midlands Combined Authority working in the Economic Delivery, Skills and Communities directorate. Her day-to-day role includes oversight of all training that is funded at Level 3 and above across the West Midlands as well as acting as the sector specialist for digital, creative, green and sustainability. Louise also developed the Skills Bootcamp model which was piloted in the West Midlands and has now been expanded across multiple sectors nationally. Prior to this, Louise has held roles within higher education, further education, and private training.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2023 this involves 4 free webinars and events sharing best practice advice and guidance taking place throughout March, and a Growth Through People conference on 10th May. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing podcasts and blog content.

Thanks to our Headline Partners and Sponsors – Aston University, South and City College Birmingham and the West Midlands Combined Authority - all Growth Through People events and webinars are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend here.