Eighteen months ago, we learned about The Duke of York’s Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (known as iDEA) through the workshops leading up to the 2nd GM Digital and Tech summit. Recognising its value for our digital inclusion programme, we offered to partner with iDEA and build awareness of this new scheme, spearheading its promotion across Stockport.

iDEA is for everyone

iDEA uses an innovative online badge concept to help people develop digital and enterprise skills for free. It’s the digital and enterprise equivalent of The Duke of Edinburgh Award, but unlike the DoE Award, it’s for young people and adults alike. iDEA Awards are endorsed by industry and having them on your CV, whatever stage you’re at, will demonstrate you’ve invested time in your digital skills.

There are three levels of Award: Bronze is beginner level, Silver intermediate and Gold advanced. The Gold Award will be launched later this year.

I thoroughly recommend that everyone has a go at the Bronze award. Just pick a badge that interests you and try it out! The badges are bite-sized and very flexible and accessible on any device. You can do them on your own, with your friends or family, whenever you want. They’re great to while away 10 minutes waiting for the train or to de-stress while you’re having a lunch break! I’ve encouraged my own family to have a go and it is exciting seeing those letters coming through from Buckingham Palace when you achieve an award!

Digital skills are so important today, not just for work, but for saving money, staying in touch and so much more. This short video featuring 3 generations of 1 Stockport family who are all doing iDEA, shows how we all have our own reasons for wanting to improve our digital skills and how there are badges to interest everyone.

Spreading the word

iDEA is for people of all ages looking to improve digital skills so we have used a combination of press releases, email communications and social media to build awareness and encourage take-up of the scheme by residents.

We have also tailored separate communications to target the ‘organisers and influencers’ – the schools, colleges, libraries, community and voluntary groups who aim to improve residents’ digital skills, our own Council colleagues and Councillors and our partners. And we have helped to influence Stockport businesses looking to recruit, encouraging them to look out for iDEA on CV’s and job applications.

We have had fantastic support from our apprentices, with some taking on the promotion of the scheme to schools and colleges as evidence for their apprenticeships. We now have around 1,000 students registered for the scheme and 6 schools and colleges are established organisers of the Awards. Our apprentices, together with students and staff from Aquinas College were chosen to feature in a short film made by iDEA about the awards last September.

The film also features our Chief Executive, Pam Smith, who is firmly committed to the Awards and with her endorsement we have been able to promote the scheme internally to our colleagues and Councillors, through our newsletters and intranet and maximising the opportunities offered by initiatives such as Learning at Work Week and Get Online Week.

Because of our early adoption of the scheme, we are often asked to share our experiences of rolling out the iDEA scheme with other local authorities and we are delighted to have been awarded the iDEA Pioneer accolade which is proudly displayed on the footer of our websites.

Monitoring take up

Early in 2018 we established a Digital Stockport badge, which gives participants points towards their Bronze Award, and us the ability to monitor take up within Stockport. We point our marketing and communications to a page on our own website where people can access the code for this badge.

By the end of May 2019, around 1,600 Stockport residents had signed up to iDEA, with around two-thirds from schools and colleges and one-third individually. We also know that 212 of them have achieved the Bronze Award, 57 have achieved Silver and between them all, they’ve completed more than 10,000 badges!

Have you tried it yet?

You only need an email address to get started – please grab your Digital Stockport badge which gives you points towards your Bronze award and allows us to count you in our stats!

To sign up go to idea.org.uk, click on Sign Up to create an account, then click ‘have a badge code’. Enter DIGITALSTOCKPORT238 and redeem. You will see your Digital Stockport badge and points appear in your badge store and you’re on your way. Pick a badge you like the sound of and let the fun begin!