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Talent Pipeline Risks Limiting New Tech Department

Talent Pipeline Risks Limiting New Tech Department

Digital college chief addresses Parliamentarians on challenges and opportunities for new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology 

Mark Smith, CEO of Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, has described the government’s ambition in setting up the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology as “laudable” but stressed that to fulfil its aims to ensure theUK is the best place to start a tech business, and able to attract and develop the best talent, it will need to strengthen the pipeline of digitally trained young people, especially those from non-traditional backgrounds.

Following his appearance at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Digital Skills earlier today, Mark Smith said: 

“It’s great to see tech at the Cabinet table, with the policy influence and financial clout that brings. But without prioritising education and skills within the mix, we will never create the workforce needed to achieve government’s ambition – or realise the transformational potential of tech to bring economic prosperity to aspiring talent, regardless of background or location.” 

He set out three asks of government: 

  • A national campaign to improve awareness of tech-focused careers in schools. 
  • A concerted recruitment drive to bring Computer Science teachers into the workforce – with financial incentives such as a student loan waiver or generous repayment terms, or bonus payments at the end of three years post qualifying – similar to other measures for under-recruited subjects like Physics.  
  • Additional funding to scale up Ada’s successful model – which includes a curriculum co-designed in collaboration with industry and intensive coaching and support – to other parts of the country. 

According to Tech Nation, over 800k tech and digital job vacancies were available between January and May 2022. Yet fewer than half of British employers believe that young people are leaving education with sufficient digital skills to access the industry. And with Tech Nation reporting that average tech pay is 80 per cent higher than for other sectors, this is a missed opportunity to bring about positive social mobility. 

Ada seeks to fill this gap, by providing young people with the skills industry actually needs. Its successful model for reaching and supporting students from lower income backgrounds into tech careers has been recognised with a recent King’s Award for Enterprise for Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility).

91% of Ada’s apprentice alumni are in aspirational tech-focused jobs and 98% in full-time employment or higher education.

43% of Ada’s most recent graduating cohort of apprentices achieved 1st class degrees validated by the Open University with 100% passing their degree programme.

Our high performing Sixth Form was the top centre for the Computing BTEC nationally in 2020.

Mark Smith:

“The new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is a fantastic opportunity for government to prioritise funded policies that will support the FE sector to encourage up-stream skills development and new education-industry collaborations, like those we have seen succeed at Ada.”

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