Digital Futures West Sussex

Digital Futures West Sussex supports businesses who need digital talent and provides information for residents interested in pursuing digital careers.

What is Digital Futures West Sussex?

West Sussex is a county with a diverse range of small, medium and large businesses, many of which require a skilled workforce that can adapt to meet their growing digital needs. We also recognise that many job seekers are currently unaware of the wide range of digital opportunities available in the county and the pathways to enter them.

We have gathered advice and top tips from three digital ambassadors who share their knowledge and experience to support job seekers. Mark Bullen, Luke Mead and Barney Durrant talk through the insider view on how to embark on a digital career.

Meet our ambassadors

  • Tell us about your journey in setting up LMS and expanding the business.

    When I was 13 I had a job washing up at a restaurant in Arundel and found myself thinking that there must be more to life than cleaning out a dirty gravy pot. I was good with computers, so I decided to take the initiative and set up LM Solutions. I put posters up around the town and delivered flyers around Arundel - and it took off from there.

    I started doing residential IT work, then helping smaller businesses in the area - at the time I couldn’t drive so my parents had to drive me to clients and wait outside.

    I then failed my A levels miserably - having flown through my GCSEs - because I was at the back of the classroom on my BlackBerry, emailing clients and sorting things out.

    I went to college and did a BTEC National Diploma, which was three days a week, which meant I could work the other two days whilst I wasn’t at college. I did all the case studies for my course around my clients at the time and then over that summer holiday I did a big project for a company installing a new server, a new network.

    I got to the point in year two where the phone was ringing off the hook. We formed the limited company in January 2010 and have never looked back.

    What are the benefits of a digital career?

    Everything evolves quickly in digital, so you’re always learning something new - it’s never dull. Every day is a school day.

    From our perspective, seeing a company grow and evolve through embracing technology and implementing new systems, enhancements and technologies is huge. When you spot something like a terrible cyber risk and you implement controls and measures to mitigate risk to your client’s business - that is massive. Protecting companies is really rewarding.

    What challenges have you faced in recruiting people with advanced digital skills in West Sussex? What challenges do you know other employers face in the county?

    There is a huge shortage of digital talent, which is a challenge, but another big priority for us is to hire people with the right soft skills and the ability to communicate well.

    I think many people assume digital or tech roles aren’t available to them as they don’t think of themselves in that way. There might be someone who has worked as a receptionist, who is a CRM wizard without knowing it - and they will likely have great social skills as well.

    Emotional intelligence is key in our teams. We would rather employ someone who has only a foundational digital knowledge but has the ability to communicate. We can help them to develop the technical skills.

    Why should jobseekers consider West Sussex for a digital role and what are the advantages of taking a job here, rather than in London or elsewhere?

    For one thing, we have the nicest weather in the UK.

    There are so many businesses in West Sussex where you can make a significant impact, rather than just being a number. I have a colleague who is only in his early 20s, but he is working at such a high level. A big part of what we do is teaching, coaching and giving our team the confidence and the skillset to do the job well.

    Staff turnover can be bigger at companies in London and the city is tough.

    What skills do you need to work in a digital role?

    Thinking outside the box is massively important. You need to be curious and able to look at things from a different perspective. Often, especially in our industry, what's in front of you might not be the problem, so you need to be able to look at a wider peripheral.

    It goes without saying that problem solving is greatly valuable. The one skill that is often overlooked is the ability to multitask and prioritise. In our business, prioritising tasks is constant - so you need to understand the impact of the service on each client.

    What advice would you give to those people who are considering a career change and switching to a digital role?

    Don’t be afraid - the only thing that will hold you back is you and your own self-belief. For example, I have a colleague who came from a hospitality background - now she’s coding and managing agreements, looking at business processes and how they are managed, looking at costs and how to automate processes and become more efficient.
    There's untapped potential in all of us. It's having the self-belief to find that potential.

    In terms of female employment in the tech sector - it is growing, and it's growing because I think people are more actively engaged with technology on a subconscious basis - everyone uses a smartphone.

    And now that digital is more common in all aspects of life, I think that it opens up the opportunity for much more diversity in digital roles.

    Why did you sign up to be a Digital Futures ambassador?

    It’s something positive that I can give back to the community. If I can change the life of one person, then I’ve had the positive impact I’m looking for.

  • What does GBE do?

    GB Electronics (UK) Ltd was formed in 1988 by my father, originally as an electronics components specialist, before moving into small-scale manufacturing. In the 1990s the company started growing in the world of data systems, including taxi dispatch systems based in Lancing.

    When I joined in 2003, I started to try to win new business for design through to manufacturing. There weren’t many companies doing that kind of work. We started to do design consultancy work - learning how to bring magic to a product for a low cost. We learnt to design products from a user’s perspective and the value of having a technical and digital mindset in a business, to bring to life an innovation.

    We cut our teeth on our taxi dispatch system - the product would dispatch jobs to the drivers through software designed to maximise efficiency for cabs. We have since moved that technology into other markets. Once you’ve designed some technology, it’s important to have the vision to move that technology into other areas.

    Tell us about your business journey and growing the company.

    I was at university in the 1990s and then working at Goldman Sachs. I kept looking at the company and thinking I would like to join. There was a lot of potential and I could see that if you brought a design element in for hardware, firmware and software, it would move out of the league of just small scale manufacturing.

    I joined in 2003 and moved back to Sussex from London, as I wanted a better quality of life. I was only employee number six. The strategy to bring in design worked well and we started winning a lot more design projects through to manufacturing. In 2007 it was getting so busy and we needed more space, so we moved to Goring, which is where our headquarters is now - by then we had 15 people.

    I realised the power of working with local universities in a business - we won a grant with the University of Brighton and took on a designer to help work on our taxi dispatch system product.

    Having a digital mindset and being able to turn our skills to different areas helped us through the recession in 2008. We were also heavily involved in the life sciences and healthcare. We started working on baby products, such as the sleep aid product Ewan the Dream Sheep, which has sold 1.5 million units. We’ve always been diversified across a lot of different markets, as the more markets you’re in, this increases the skills base of your designers.

    As we kept growing, we realised our limitations - to grow to the next level we needed our own machines. We acquired a company in Littlehampton in 2017 and by then we had about 25 people across both teams. It meant we could do the whole process of design and manufacturing ourselves, which has massively paid off.

    Since 2017 we’ve grown the company to just over 60 people. The other thing we realised we didn’t have in-house was front-end software app design and back-end data hosting. So we started a software business called GB Logical a year and a half ago, doing bespoke software design, firmware design, data design – software as a service. That’s been a great growth model for us.

    Why did you decide to base your business in West Sussex and what’s the best thing about being based in coastal West Sussex?

    I’ve spent time living in Cumbria, Manchester and London, but I grew up around here and love it. I like the space and the landscape of the South Downs, the friendliness, the sporting facilities. Being by the coast is very calming. I always knew I’d come back down here. I think you’ve got a better chance of making a success of yourself down here, as in London you can get lost in the multitude of people.

    From a business perspective, you’ve got good universities who are trying to advance and are taking a keen interest in jobs for students and trying to engage with local companies. There is a huge opportunity to be a big partner with them. I think if you go to London or Cambridge you’re competing with a lot of other businesses.

    Local colleges are keen to engage with businesses too - at GBE we sponsor Worthing College, where we have our own GBE lab. We do talks for the students about the relevance of what they’re learning and where it could take them, trying to inspire them to use their skills in electronics, science and digital to build a career. It’s important to make that connection early on.

    From a recruitment perspective, you’ve got an engaged group of people in West Sussex as university and college students already like it here on the south coast - so there’s that opportunity too.

    What do you love most about your job and working in digital/technology?

    What I really like in this industry is being part of a project that sees an initial idea right through to a product that’s being used - in our case, delivering blood, helping parents look after babies, testing aeroplane parts.

    We have designed lots of cutting-edge medical devices such as BloodTrack®, which tracks blood in hospitals digitally. In 2003 all blood labels were handwritten and there was no way of tracking it apart from looking at it. Our product makes a significant difference to the NHS in improving efficiency - it just shows you what you can do with innovation.

    I also love watching people join us and develop their career. Some staff have joined from university, some have even gone back to college part time - watching their career path grow is very rewarding.

    What kind of digital roles are available that people might not know about?

    Some people think of digital as just software and coding. I always say, what do you like about your phone? It looks great - someone has designed and come up with the concept of that product, and this is the same with any embedded product. That’s before you even go into user experience and electronic design, or building the communication device, how the data goes down networks - so the digital marketspace is almost limitless once you start looking at a simple thing that everyone is using.

    You could have a digital career in almost any aspect of that product. Some businesses might be quite manual but they could use software to streamline their accounts and maximise operations - so every company can have digital careers. In that sense you’re not just designing products, you’re also improving efficiency and productivity, which is hugely important for our economy.

    There are loads of ‘bedroom coders’ here - people who are at school and are great at coding but they don’t know where the right job is for them. They know about the big city-based tech giants - Digital Futures is about giving them the vision that there are smaller companies locally where their skills are very valuable. They don’t have to go to London where it’s very competitive.

    Growing the business and employing local people, working with the University of Brighton and University of Chichester, where we have a couple of people on degree apprenticeships, taking on NVQ apprentices, sponsoring colleges - this has all shown me that there are loads of clever people here. We just need to engage more of them and show them there’s work down here. And we need to show other companies that these talented people are here and businesses need to have more of a vision for technology, as it can really transform your company.

    What are the benefits of working face-to-face, rather than remotely?

    There are loads - there’s a place for hybrid (for more experienced people in particular) but for innovation and for continual learning at work, face-to-face is much better. Detecting if someone is struggling, the ability to ask questions - this is really important for less experienced people who need that kind of engagement - you are continually learning.

    People are social beings too - working together is good for wellbeing.

    Why should jobseekers consider West Sussex for a digital role and what are the advantages of taking a job here, rather than in London or elsewhere?

    London is an experience some people want to have, but many want to engage more in a community - being somewhere outside London and the big cities will give you that. West Sussex marries that experience with good infrastructural spending.

    Now West Sussex County Council and the districts and boroughs have shown they’re keen to push Digital Futures and invest in that - so it’s a good chance to jump on that wave. Lots of universities, schools and colleges are looking to engage more on digital roles too, so it makes sense to try and grasp these opportunities for job seekers and career switchers.

    I think with technology, there is an opportunity to teach yourself too. Some people like taking products apart and designing things - the more people can do at home and then bring that in to work, they can monetise their interests.

    It’s important for people to have a vision, rather than assuming they have to work for a tech giant if they want to write software, for example. If you go and work for the big companies, you are a small cog in a big machine. If you work in a smaller business, you have the early opportunity to make a difference and the chance to make step changes in a business. You can have a bigger impact, which will lead to a better financial package too.

    What skills do you need to work in a digital role?

    Curiosity is important for any digital role. You need to be keen to see something through to the end and be willing to ask for help. For design, you need creativity and a good understanding of how a customer is going to use the product you’re designing. Everything has to be designed from the user perspective, rather than just using technology for the sake of it. Enjoying innovation and getting satisfaction from the process of design is important.

    You probably can’t work in software without an interest in coding, but there are so many other roles within the digital marketplace, for example, in user experience, digital marketing or cyber security. Or you could be in a digital business in the accounts or HR department for example.

    What advice would you give to anyone starting out in digital?

    Be curious - if you want to work in digital, read about it, research, read about companies and have an ongoing interest. For product design, do take things apart, make design sketches and look at things with a curious eye. Write code and think about how code works, because those skills are directly transferable to companies. Software is evolving so quickly - you have to be curious and keep learning. You may do a module at university or college which in six months becomes irrelevant, so you must keep engaging with it to keep your knowledge fresh.

    Also have a good awareness of cyber security and GDPR, as they’re important in digital workplaces and it’s a huge growth market.

    Why did you sign up to be a Digital Futures ambassador?

    Serendipity! I’ve been engaging with local schools and colleges for a long time as they are a great resource for our company. As I’ve grown the company, I’ve always thought it’s important to build another layer of recruits, and there’s a lot of potential out there. Being a Digital Futures ambassador is a chance to give something back and show people there are great opportunities in digital here in West Sussex. For young people, it’s important to show them the relevance of what they’re studying at school or college in the real world.

    I was excited to hear that the local authorities are investing in this programme and have this vision. Being an ambassador allows me to share this vision with other companies and academic institutions.

    Mark Bullen's top tips

    How can people get started on their digital career journey?

    Being open minded about what is a 'digital career'. The category is broad and continues to grow with technology. Consider what technology interests you, carry out some online research and speak to companies, colleges, universities and friends/family.

    What skills and experience do you look for when recruiting and what is important to you as an employer and your work culture?

    Enthusiasm, dedication and positive attitude to work. You must have an interest in technology with a appetite to learn and a very strong team ethic.

    How varied are digital roles across West Sussex and are there opportunities at entry level and good progression routes?

    Digital roles continually evolve as companies adopt ever-new technology. This includes software, IT and hardware development and support, product/graphical design and CAD, communication and networks, multi and social media design and development services, user interfaces, game and graphics design, embedded applications, business system design, implementation and support, sports and recreational technology and teaching.

    There are several large, blue chip organisations in Coastal West Sussex, including Glaxo, Roll-Royce, Southern Water, Equiniti and Ricardo, which have a large range of roles and structured career paths. There are also an ever-growing number of start-ups and SMEs - from 1 to 250 people - with an exciting array of digital requirements.

    The amazing thing about digital roles is the continual evolution as technology progresses which gives you a fantastic opportunity to make a huge impact and help businesses adopt more technology and grow.

    What are the digital career opportunities that set West Sussex apart from other areas?

    Coastal - fantastic work/life balance. The opportunity to live near the coast with a multitude of leisure activities - fantastic all year around, especially spring, summer and autumn. Also, close to the South Downs, with biking, hiking and running. It really is a beautiful and relaxing place to live. Numbers of SME businesses are increasing with a good growth in technology requirements.

    What are the benefits of digital roles?

    Digital roles are often at the forefront of technology. Continually developing with a real chance to make your mark and shape the future. Salaries are good, roles are creative, evolving and intellectually stimulating. Often with hybrid home/work options.

  • Tell us about how your work background - have you always worked in digital marketing and how did you start out and get into digital?

    I’ve lived in East Grinstead in Sussex since the age of 13. I studied GCSEs and A levels locally and went to Leeds University to study Classical Civilisations.

    When I left university there was no internet - digital didn’t exist back then, so it wasn’t a career option for me.

    My first job was at an investment company and then I worked in publishing in East Grinstead for a few years. My digital path started around 2000, as I became interested in the internet bubble as it was taking off. Lots of companies crashed and burned at that time.

    I worked for LookSmart for a few years - an Australian company and rival to Yahoo. Before Google, search engines were like directories. My job was to write reviews of URLs for the directory - I was editor of work and money, collecting a breakdown of Independent Financial Advisors. I gained early experience using the internet, which a lot of people didn’t have.

    After being made redundant I joined Google in 2005, commuting to their Soho office. Back then it was about 90 people, compared to 6,000 employees in London alone today. I worked for them for seven years as an account manager and was assigned a group of agencies - it was my job to manage their customers. The department I worked in managed top clients who wanted to spend money on the internet with Google.

    Google bought YouTube in 2006, which enabled a step into video advertising. The transition from desktop computers to mobile also took place during my time there. A typical day involved going to speak to clients, big brands and trying to get them to do mobile advertising or a YouTube takeover, as I was in the technology team on telecoms side.

    There were lots of exciting developments at that time. I visited the company headquarters in San Francisco for amazing presentations where all the engineers would come out and talk about product launches, such as Google Maps and Google Earth - Gmail had just launched when I started.

    Tell us about Bluebell Marketing and what you do.

    I left Google in 2012 and decided to set up my own company in 2014. There had been a lot of restructuring and I’d become disenchanted with just doing sales.

    At Bluebell Marketing, I provide services in Google ads, SEO - which I taught myself to do - paid social campaigns, mainly on LinkedIn, and copywriting too.

    As my background is in technology and mobile phones, I do have some tech clients, but I work with a mix of companies across Sussex and the South East, large and small, as well as some clients abroad, including an Amsterdam agency.

    Who is your favourite client?

    I couldn’t say! Locally I have a Horsham client I’ve been working with for years - I like to work directly with people. I get business through word of mouth as well as referrals.

    I do lots of networking locally in Crawley, looking for small to medium-sized companies to work with. I’m on the committee for Gatwick Diamond and get to meet all kinds of companies and charities, and I’m a member of Haywards Heath Business Association and Brighton Chamber too. Where I don’t work with companies who are based in Sussex, I have still met a lot of my clients through local people.

    There’s a lot going on in Crawley to boost digital - soon there’s going to be an Institute of Technology at Crawley College teaching digital skills, and they’re founding an incubator to help start-ups in the area.

    Having worked for so long in London, why did you decide to set up your business in West Sussex and what’s the best thing about basing your business in West Sussex?

    From a business perspective, in West Sussex you have access to a good marketplace with urban centres within a half-hour drive or so - it’s a well-populated and large county with lots of different businesses. I can get into London easily, so you might think I should just go there to network - but in London, where would you start? It could start to get very costly too. West Sussex can give you so much opportunity, as it’s a smaller community and that’s an advantage.

    As it’s a lovely place to live, West Sussex has attracted lots of entrepreneurial people - some with businesses out of county. There are probably more people with digital skills than you might expect here - more now than there ever have been. Rather than working for one big employer for a long time, people are having portfolio careers and many want to live in rural places.

    West Sussex is good from a lifestyle perspective as you can be in the countryside but you’re not isolated. You’re still connected with access to lots of nice places to visit and the coast, urban centres and towns too.

    What do you love most about your job and working in digital?

    I love the variety and the fact there’s always something new emerging all the time - it’s incredibly dynamic and fast-changing. That can be challenging too, but it’s exciting and you are constantly learning. Digital is great if you have an enquiring mind.

    I like working with clients and I work with lovely people. I also like the education process - throughout my career I’ve been educating people about things - what are Google Ads? What is YouTube? What is mobile advertising?

    Digital adoption is still quite low with many companies, so there are ample opportunities and no scarcity of business for an organisation like Bluebell Marketing.

    My job is about finding the business and persuading companies to do digital advertising, for example. Smaller and more traditional businesses find it harder to keep up with the pace of change, so there are plenty of opportunities to help them catch up. Certain sectors are more traditionally minded. Digital is certainly not a declining industry and is only going to grow more with AI and automation.

    What are the benefits of a digital career and what kind of roles are available that people might not know about?

    Roles at digital companies tend to be well paid with good benefits and a fun culture. If you want an interesting pace, things will not be boring and will change a lot.

    For younger people coming out of education, there are new roles popping up, as well as new technology and products, and more new roles will be created in the next five years. There are jobs now that you’d say are digital, but 'digital' is not really a sector - it’s a thread that runs through almost everyone’s careers, if not all.

    Even if you’re doing TV advertising, that’s now IP-based, for example. You have digital billboards and newspapers get most of their revenue from their websites. Everything has a digital element and that’s only going to increase - digital will inevitably be a part of your job.

    In Crawley and Mid Sussex there are a lot of companies which have digital roles or are digital companies. Digital companies tend to recruit digitally and use platforms such as LinkedIn and Indeed as well as your local job centre. Don’t dismiss companies which you think might not have digital roles - read about them to find out if they’re innovating in some way. There are plenty of companies which do a lot of data work, for example.

    What are the benefits of working face-to-face, rather than remotely?

    It’s harder to be creative if you’re on Zoom all the time - you’re not bouncing ideas off each other casually and those more spontaneous chats don’t happen. Meetings tend to be more formal and structured online. Getting people together easily is obviously a practical advantage for business owners working face-to-face too.

    Also, despite being freed by technological advances with video calls, as a human you want to focus on your physical environment too. Trying to compete with the entire world is overwhelming.

    What challenges have you faced in recruiting people with digital skills in West Sussex (if any) - or what challenges are you aware of for other employers?

    Finding the right person can be a challenge - when I’ve spoken to other employers they’ve told me it can take a long time to find the right person. I think it’s important for businesses to offer training and to focus on people’s potential, especially for more technical roles. The new digital courses at Crawley College are a positive and will bring more students in to the area who are keen to build on those skills.

    Why should jobseekers consider West Sussex for a digital role and what are the advantages of taking a job here, rather than in London or elsewhere?

    If you go to London, there are opportunities, but it’s also incredibly competitive. In West Sussex you’ll get the chance to work with companies which are growing, with opportunities to work at a higher level at a younger age. This can accelerate your career if you’re taking on a greater role with less experience.

    You can have a greater impact in a smaller company and really innovate, rather than being a drone in a big machine.

    What skills do you need to work in a digital role?

    Digital is a wide-ranging term, but you’ve got to be open to change and be curious. It’s not just about being good at computers. Soft skills are important - being able to communicate for example, if you’re involved with clients.

    There’s a myth that if you’re a computer person you’ll be coding in the dark, but companies want people with social skills.

    What advice would you give to young people starting out in digital and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career change and switching to a digital role?

    For my industry, you don’t need to have a marketing degree specifically to work in digital marketing. I’ve never studied it at all and I still don’t think it’s essential now. Practical experience is more important - try and get experience volunteering for a charity or a friend’s business. It’s great to learn by doing.

    I would say think hard about what you study if you want to go to university - do something that interests you and get a good degree.
    However, if you want to work in computer engineering for example, a degree in that is going to be helpful.

    Why did you sign up to be a Digital Futures ambassador?

    I spend most of my work life talking about digital and I am passionate about technology and the internet, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to use my experience and local network for a very worthy cause.

    Barney Durrant's top tips

    How can people get started on their digital career journey?

    There are lots of different types of digital roles, from data analytics to coding to marketing, and they all require different kind of skills, personalities and experience, so it is important to try to understand which area might be appealing and fit your previous experience.

    You don't necessarily have to have matching experience, so it could be understanding the requirements of certain roles and seeing if you have transferable skills and can then train for the other aspects.

    In the marketing space, there are lots of free online resources to train in areas such as Google or Facebook ads, so it is possible to gain some knowledge that way.

    Another approach might be to volunteer to work with a charity and give some time helping them with their digital marketing or contribute to a friend or other organisation by helping them with their social media for example. These can be good ways to gain a little experience, learn and make yourself more employable for a formal digital marketing role.

    There are university and other courses, but you don't necessarily need to have a marketing degree to succeed in a digital marketing career - experience is just as important.

    Typical employers will be media and marketing agencies, PR companies, web design agencies, media owners, plus working in-house for companies or organisations running their digital marketing efforts. Linkedln and online job marketplaces such as Indeed will be a good place to find open vacancies.

    What skills and experience do you look for when recruiting and what is important to you as an employer and your work culture?

    I would look for experience and aptitude - skills like attention to detail, ability to analyse figures and data, writing ability, soft skills in dealing with customers such as customer service and sales, ability to thrive in a dynamic and ever-changing environment and take in a lot of information, creative, ideas driven, teamwork, inquisitive and willing to learn.

    How varied are digital roles across West Sussex?

    There are a wide range of companies that need digital skills in West Sussex, from those that want marketing people in-house to small and medium-sized agencies plus media organisations.

    What are the digital career opportunities that set West Sussex apart from other areas?

    In the north of the county, there are large towns like Crawley which have a large amount of big companies related to travel and the airport, plus other corporates based in the area. There are also companies spread across smaller towns like Haywards Heath, East Grinstead and Burgess Hill and surrounding villages.

    There are marketing, PR, creative and design agencies across the area plus IT, software and hardware firms. There has been a long period of high employment in the area, so there are always digital roles available for this growing industry.

    Where can people find out about opportunities and who could help in your region?

    Local jobs services, LinkedIn, job websites, such as Indeed or Reed or total jobs. Going to company websites for their openings plus monitoring the internet and social media. Digital companies will often be using the internet to recruit.

    What are the benefits of digital roles?

    High salaries, growing industry, new types of roles opening up regularly, good benefits, fun culture, a wide range of different types of job and plenty of options for rapid advancement.

Local support, advice and guidance

There is a range of support available to help with finding a new digital job or with changing your career. West Sussex district and boroughs offer free careers advice to all residents in their respective areas.

You can find further information on digital roles through the National Careers Service, or you can visit your local West Sussex library for support with your job search.

If you are looking to upskill, change career or start your digital career journey, there are a range of local colleges, training providers and online courses that offer digital training. Find all the relevant information in our helpful information guide below.

Digital apprenticeships are available with local employers, where you can earn while you learn and gain experience. If you are interested in training with a specific employer and they are not listed, consider approaching them directly and ask if they would consider offering you an apprenticeship. Always be prepared to demonstrate your existing knowledge and skills developed through personal interests or online courses.

We are actively developing new Digital Futures West Sussex support for businesses and residents, and we will share more details soon. Stay connected with us on LinkedIn for updates or check back on this web page.

If you are interested in finding out more about the first phase of the programme (which ran from September 2022 to July 2023), or you would like to access the project report, email us at

The Digital Futures West Sussex programme is jointly funded by West Sussex County Council and the West Sussex district and borough councils.

Information guide

Whether you are looking to upskill, change career or start your digital career journey, there are a range of local colleges, training providers and online courses that offer specific digital training to work for you.

Colleges and universities

Local colleges and universities available to you offer a range of digital courses and training:

Free courses and providers

There are a huge number of free online courses available to help you find out more about digital jobs and to build your advanced digital skills. These range from taster sessions, which can last for as little as a few hours, to courses that you can complete over a number of months.

These courses can help you build a portfolio of skills to present to potential employers, which will demonstrate  your aptitude and enthusiasm for a digital role. Many offer downloadable certificates as evidence of your achievements.

We have provided a few examples of courses available. However, this list is not exhaustive and more can be researched online.

  • Skills for Careers - Advice and guidance on training and courses available to you.
  • CODES - The Centres of Digital Excellence (CODEs) offers free courses Free digital courses including coding, virtual reality and cyber security  available at Northbrook, Brighton Met and Crawley College.
  • Khan Academy - Free online courses across a range of disciplines, including computer programming.
  • Code Academy - Free online coding courses, from beginners upwards.
  • EdX Online - University level courses provided by Harvard university and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Microsoft Learn - Free online module courses and guidance for all Microsoft software and programmes.
  • Coursera courses, degrees and professional certifications provided by a range of universities and businesses.
  • School of Code - Free intensive coding bootcamps for beginners with opportunities into digital job positions.
  • Google digital garage - Free Google digital courses, from marketing, coding and beyond.
  • Code First Girls - Technology pathways, free courses, tools and job opportunities for women exploring a career in technology.


Free bootcamps are available and free for anyone aged over 19. Digital courses range from Amazon web services, Cloud computing, Level 3 Software to Cyber Security and digital marketing. Have a search to explore what could work for you.