Damning effects of the UK's digital skills deficit

Ahead of the publication of the Government’s Digital Strategy, the Science and Technology Committee have released a report into the extent of the digital skills crisis and its impact on the UK’s productivity and competitiveness.

Key findings from the report include:

  •   12.6 million adults lack basic digital skills
  •   The skills gap costs the economy £63bn per year in lost income
  •   Employers will need a further 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017

The Committee describes digital skills as the ability to use digital devices to access the internet, code or create software and the ability to critically evaluate media. As well as reporting generally on the limited digital capabilities amongst adults in the UK, the report also offers specific findings on the skills gap within education, businesses and the economy as a whole.

Recognising the widespread nature of the skills deficit, the report states that ‘the skills gap presents itself at all stages in the education and training pipeline, from schools to the workplace.’ Whilst steps have been taken to improve the computing curriculum in schools, alarmingly, only 35% of computer science teachers have a relevant qualification and only 70% of the required number of computer science teachers have been recruited.

With 90% of jobs now requiring digital skills, the pressure is mounting on educational institutions to teach young people relevant computing skills and help prepare them for a career in the increasingly digital world.

Ben Leeds, Director, Networkers said: “The Government has been taking steps in the right direction to address the skills gap such as refreshing the computer curriculum and creating funding for digital apprenticeships but more practical solutions are needed to ensure the UK remains a leading force in technology within Europe.”

As the influence of digital becomes ingrained in our everyday lives, the expectations of employers are shifting (72% state they are unwilling to interview candidates who do not have basic IT skills) and businesses are struggling to find people with the right skills (almost 50% of employers have a digital skills gap). In the technology industry, businesses are under particular pressure to find professionals with high levels of IT proficiency as 93% find that the skills gap is affecting their commercial operations.

This is a dilemma faced by more and more employers in the sector as Ben Leeds explains: “Not only do employers across finance, health and the public sector expect employees to have solid IT skills but technology companies are in desperate need of people with high level digital skills who can keep up the pace with emerging technologies and really lead innovation.”

If you have experience working in the digital/IT sector and are looking for a new challenge, please view our available IT jobs.

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