techUK Calls for National Digital Skills Map to stop the UK Falling Behind
New paper warns that a fragmented approach to digital skills policy could ‘stunt growth’.
In a new paper launched recently, techUK has called for the development of a comprehensive map of the digital skills pipeline. In 'We're just not doing enough - Working together to meet the digital skills challenge', the UK's leading tech trade association warns against a fragmented approach to overcoming the skills gap, and outlines 11 recommendations to ensure future success.
Charlotte Holloway, Head of Policy at techUK said: "Digital technologies will be at the heart of growth and jobs creation in the next five years. To realise the potential of tech in the UK we must work together with government to overcome the skills gap which threatens to stunt growth in the tech industry and beyond. With recent estimates suggesting the UK is already losing a potential £2bn per year from unfilled roles requiring digital skills, the scale of the gap over the next decade cannot be underestimated. We must accelerate efforts to secure the UK's position as a world leading digital economy."
The paper highlights a number of positive initiatives, including the Tech Partnership and the new National College for Digital Skills, already underway across the UK, but calls on the Government's Digital Economy Unit to undertake a dynamic mapping exercise on the likely impact of these initiatives on the digital capabilities of those entering the workforce to 2020 and beyond.
Holloway continued: "At present, skills initiatives risk fragmentation, resulting in gaps and overlap. By mapping the likely impact digital skills initiatives, we can look seriously at 'what works' for industry needs in a world-leading digital economy. Government and wider players can then use those insights to demonstrate where more may still need to be done, whether that be to boost the computing curriculum or where a 'smart immigration' approach is needed to address the most pronounced shortages."
Initiatives like the recently introduced Computing Curriculum are key to inspiring excitement about technology from a young age, but techUK has previously expressed concerns that teachers do not have the skills or resources to teach the curriculum effectively. 'We're Just Not Doing Enough' recommends the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should jointly carry out an assessment of successes and challenges in the implementation of the computing curriculum, and its impact on growing the pipeline of digital talent in the UK.
Holloway concluded: "If we don't measure and build on success, there is a risk these welcome efforts are going to waste."
Following the Government's ambitions to create three million new apprenticeships, the paper recommends close dialogue between industry and government to ensure young people are trained in jobs for the future. Digital skills will be crucial to the vast majority of roles in the years to come, and must be at the heart of the government's strategy to both increase the number of high skilled workers and drive productivity right across the economy.
Andy Griffiths, President Samsung UK and Ireland, said: "Samsung was delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to this report, which sets out clear recommendation to both Government and industry on how we can work together to address the digital skills gap in the UK. This is becoming increasingly important as our world becomes ever more connected, with future careers, either directly within the growing technology centre or outside it, increasingly requiring digital skills.
"At Samsung, we want to inspire learning and innovation. We recognise that the delivery of STEM subjects is hugely important for the UK's future and we want to encourage young people to combine technical knowledge and skills with the creativity and confidence that leads to the most innovative and successful ideas. We believe this will give our young people the skills they need to thrive in the modern world."
techUK supports eSkills for Jobs 2015. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the need for citizens to improve their command of information and communication technology (ICT) skills for work.
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