Richard French is director of education policy at BCS

Following the recent announcement by Matthew Hancock that the Government intends to consult on its proposal to launch a traineeships programme, Richard French, Director of Education Policy at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, argues that digital skills are as important as numeracy and literacy in the preparation for work.

With more than a million young people in England not in education, employment or training (Neet) in the three months to September 2012, the proposed traineeships programme which is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, is a fantastic step in the right direction for young people who find it difficult to secure work. In the current economic climate competition for jobs is already incredibly tight, but trying to enter the market without any experience or appropriate skills can make it even harder, if not impossible.

The proposed scheme, for 16 to 24 year-olds, appears to offer young people the opportunity to prepare for the world of apprenticeships and employment through a balanced portfolio of relevant skills that employers require. Those on the programme will be offered work experience, lessons in English and maths, CV-writing tips and advice on how to prepare for an interview. The traineeships are expected to last about six months, and could be in place by September.

All of which is very important, however, as the Chartered Institute for IT, we would also propose that the programme should offer young people the opportunity to either develop or improve their digital skills.

The Traineeship programme has been launched for consultation following complaints from business leaders about poor skills levels. This is hardly surprising, every role needs literacy and numeracy, however, more often than not, these skills have to be applied through technology whether in the form of managing data, creating emails, managing stock through mobile devices or serving customers through sophisticated point of sale technology systems.

In fact, over 77% of jobs require people to use technology. There is simply no escaping the fact that technology devices are all around us in the workplace. Having the aptitude and basic skills to work effectively utilising technology is very definitely a bonus when applying for a role.  Equally employers have much to gain from a workforce that is appropriately skilled for the 21st century workplace and this must include digital skills within a progressive training scheme such as 'Traineeships.'


We assume that young people are born digitally savvy these days. However, this isn’t necessarily true and for those who are adept at using devices, there is still a strong need for them to learn how to apply their knowledge in a workplace setting. Mobile and touch screen technology is changing the way that many people are working and allowing businesses the opportunity to develop in new ways. Having employees who can walk into a role and have a real understanding of how to use a system or apply technology is a real bonus for any employer.

However, the argument for ensuring that our young people are digitally savvy goes beyond the workplace. We live in a digital society where information and technology are at the heart of almost everything we do. To fully take advantage of the benefits of our digital world you need to be able to operate within it. Whether it is taxing a car, shopping, checking what’s on at the local cinema or even finding a job, online is now the way to go.

The Government recognised this when they launched their original Race Online campaign. There are some 9 million people who have never been online and are therefore potentially missing out on the benefits. In the Booz & Co report 'This is for Everyone - The Case For Universal Digitisation’ it clearly highlights the requirement for digital skills: 'this means reaching out to individuals and organisations that are not online to ensure they have easy access to digital technologies, are aware of the benefits of being online, and have the basic digital literacy skills needed to engage with the digital world.’

The potential traineeship model goes a long way to ensuring young people are trained to a level that will provide necessary skills to employers and will enhance sustainable employment opportunities, but we all now need to consult and ensure that the scheme truly delivers and helps young people gain the right skills for today’s society.

Richard French is director of education policy at BCS, the professional body for those working in IT

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel commented on this video 22 hours 32 minutes ago…

How To Bridge The Skills Gap In The Future...

It's learning. Just not as we know it. The race is on... It’s a race between education and technology. As intelligent systems and machines reshape...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 22 hours 35 minutes ago

How To Bridge The Skills Gap In The Future...

It's learning. Just not as we know it. The race is on... It’s a race between education and technology. As intelligent systems and machines reshape...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page