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Tech giants call for budget digital skills boost

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TECH giants have joined leading academics and cross-party politicians in urging the Chancellor to tackle the widening digital skills gap in his Autumn Statement. 

Industry bosses from Microsoft, Salesforce, Amazon, and BT have joined the Institute of Coding in penning a letter calling for the Treasury to prioritise digital skills education for the “green digital jobs of the future”. 

The letter, published in The Times, cites the necessity of collaboration between educators, industry and employers to “plug regional inequalities” and tackle the UK’s skills gap. 

These latest calls, ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, were led by the Institute of Coding, a national consortium of employers and educators led by the University of Bath, working together to supercharge the nation’s digital skills. 

More than one million people have embarked on the Institute of Coding’s free digital skills programmes to date, with the majority of learners from under-represented or low-income backgrounds. 

Those backing the Institute’s efforts include Clare Barclay, Microsoft UK CEO; Zahra Bahrololoumi, Salesforce UK and Ireland CEO; and Julian David, techUK CEO.  

Cross-party Parliamentarians, including former Labour schools minister Lord Jim Knight and former Conservative energy minister Baroness Sandip Verma, have also thrown their support behind the letter. 

With more than 870,000 vacancies across the UK tech sector according to Tech Nation, there is growing concern that the UK lacks a digitally skilled workforce to meet the technological challenges of the future, with recent polling revealing one-in-five Brits feel digitally “left behind”. 

Signatories note the need to promote lifelong learning and increase opportunities for older people to develop skills, with ONS data suggesting 3.6 million over 50s are economically inactive.  

The letter calls for everyone to have access to flexible learning opportunities and fulfilling careers “no matter their stage of life”. 

Professor Rachid Hourizi MBE, Director of the Institute of Coding, said: 

“We’re proud to be helping move the digital skills agenda forward, ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Budget, highlight the opportunity for the Chancellor to set out a plan that backs British tech talent and allows us to develop the skills of everyone across the UK. 

“The breadth of support from major global business and social mobility organisations across the UK demonstrates just how vital support and collaboration is across industry, educators, and policymakers, to develop a skilled workforce to tackle the digital challenges of the future.” 

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: 

“In order for the UK to unlock its full digital potential, we need to foster a collaborative culture of flexible and lifelong learning among educators, industry, and employers. techUK and TechSkills are proud to be joining the Institute of Coding in calling for a strong commitment to back UK tech talent.  

“The Autumn Statement provides an opportunity to invest in our people, bridge skills gaps, and ensure that everyone, regardless of age, can contribute to and thrive in the dynamic digital economy.” 

Further details can be found here

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