The UK is facing a ‘digital skills crisis’ according to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, stating that more than 12 million adults lack digital knowhow. This report also states 1 in 12 Britons have never used the internet. The Committee said ‘systemic problems’ with digital education and training within the work place have led to a lack of digital skills costing the economy an estimated £63 million a year in lost income. They went on to say that only urgent action from Government, industry, schools and universities could prevent any skills shortages from damaging future productivity and competitiveness.
They found that the ‘skills gap’ was evident in all stages of the education and training ‘pipeline’ from the classroom through to the workplace. A survey of school IT equipment found that 22% was ‘ineffective’ while only 35% of computer science teachers had a relevant qualification.
The Committee is calling for some actions to be made, some of these include:
- Apprenticeships should be made to be more digitally focused, instead of it being the main focus in digital apprenticeships
- Industry led vocationally-focused digital careers in universities
- Universities to provide ‘code conversion courses’ to help graduates from non-computer science backgrounds enter the tech sector
- Apprenticeship scheme processes to be simplified to allow SMEs to participate more easily.
As well as this MPs have questioned why it is taking so long for the Government to produce the long-promised ‘Digital Strategy’ and call for it to be published without further delay.
Without any further action this could become a big problem for the UK’s digital industry. It’s the fastest growing industry in the UK, growing 32% faster than the UK’s wider economy. With such rapid growth we could find that there will be a lack of qualified individuals to be hired into the industry – it is estimated that the UK will need a further 745,000 additional workers with additional skills by 2017.
If the changes suggested by the Committee are put in place, I think we shouldn’t have any problem in finding these additional skilled workers.