WEB & TECH / AUG. 02, 2014
version 5, draft 5

Taskforce Warns There is a Digital Skills Shortage in Britain

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According to a recently published report titled ‘Digital Skills for Tomorrow’ by the UK Digital Skills Taskforce Britain could endure a skills shortage in the technology sector. The report claims that a lack of awareness amongst teachers, pupils and their parents in regards to technology orientated careers will deter pupils from exploring jobs in the sector. Misunderstandings about the digital sector include perceptions that jobs in the sector are male orientated roles only which is contributing towards a skills shortage.

Despite a new computer curriculum which is due to be implemented in schools towards the end of this year, the report has called for more financial support from the Government to the tune of £20 million before the year 2020 which will contribute towards the computer curriculum and provide school teachers with the support they’ll need to encourage pupils to peruse careers in the technology industry.

The Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has made the following comment with regards to the UK Digital Skills Taskforce’s report:

“The report shines a much-needed spotlight on the digital skills gap and the need to give everyone - and practically those entering the labour market – the tools they need to thrive and succeed.”

He also commented that:

“In order to develop Britain’s knowledge economy and ensure a pipeline of skilled employees for business, it is essential that we meet the challenge this report sets out.”

The Digital Skills Taskforce also made the following recommendations in its report:

  • A group of expert computing school governors should be established in order to support digital awareness.
  • Educational institutions should collectively dispense career advice which would be supplemented with both extra-curricular and curricular opportunities for pupils.
  • Pupils should have digital training until they are 19 years old and that computing should be seen as an additional ‘core science.’

The UK Managing Director of City & Guilds Kirstie Donnelly has also commented in regards to the report:

“It is good to see the spotlight on the need for better education around digital skills. But as today’s report shows, the extent of the UK’s digital skills gap is a big concern. We need to do much more to protect our growing tech industries so we can compete in the global economy.

It’s time to look again at the skills we are teaching young people, and develop a curriculum that is truly aligned with what employers need.

It’s equally important that educational institutions invest properly in technology to ensure that not only are young people learning in a way that suits them, but that they are building those crucial digital capabilities from an early age.”

Last year, City & Guilds conducted some research into the digital skills gap issue and found that 47% of employers felt the Britain’s educational system was not performing efficiently in regards to business and that three quarters of employers (Information Services Sector, IT, and Digital) felt that the digital industry had a skills crisis.

It’s hard to predict how badly affected the digital industry will be when it comes to skills shortages but so far, awareness that something does need to be done to combat the problem is reassuring.

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