Greater collaboration on skills initiatives needed, alongside parent and student engagement, if the UK is to compete on the world stage.

With the demand for talent in the UK technology industry outweighing supply, Kainos has warned that the skills gap will continue to widen unless positive action is taken to ensure digital skills training initiatives are joined up.

While several initiatives and programmes aimed at closing the skills gap exist – for example, earlier this year the UK government announced twelve technology institutes to boost technical skills and training – Kainos warns that a lack of collaboration between enterprise, education and government is hindering effectiveness.

If the UK does not address this issue, it could fall behind other nations that are better placed to take advantage of digital opportunities.

A new study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) listed the UK among countries that need to do better at digital up-skilling.

Kainos warns that unless more is done to address this problem, the skills gap will continue to widen and potentially threaten the UK’s position at the heart of the digital services economy.

Kainos’ Chief Technology Officer, Tom Gray, recently set up a digital forum with the CBI in Northern Ireland, which encourages proactive collaboration between businesses and the government.

The group is focused on building the digital skills needed to create world-leading software and digital services. He believes that this model could provide a roadmap for other regions.

“Experts predict that there could be as many as 750,000 unfilled IT jobs in Europe by next year. Unless businesses start working more closely with the government and educational institutions to equip the next generation with the right skills, this gap will grow. If we don’t act now, it would have a serious impact on the UK’s GDP and quality of life.” Tom explains.

Owen Sims, Senior Policy Advisor at CBI NI added:

“The UK is at a tipping point on digital skills. The demand for talent is greatly outstripping supply throughout the economy. Recently, the CBI found that over two-thirds of businesses in the UK are reporting unfilled digital skills vacancies – and this is set to skyrocket. The UK has massive potential to lead in software engineering, but to do so we need to have the right talent; we need to inspire the next generation. Doing this requires collaboration at all levels. The Digital Forum established by the CBI NI brings together business, government bodies and educational organisations to better understand and tackle the digital skills gap in the region. It helps build meaningful partnerships that enable industry to cooperate, coordinate actions and compete globally. We are already seeing great progress in Northern Ireland and are keen to encourage constructive relationships throughout the whole of the UK.”

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Bridging the gap between education and business is essential. At a recent event, Dame Nancy Rothwell – vice chancellor at Manchester University – along with other leading figures from higher education spoke candidly on how employers are calling out for students across different disciplines to be taught tech skills.

Yet they also highlighted the need for businesses to get more involved. Gray believes that this process of collaboration needs to extend even further, beyond educational institutions and businesses, into homes.

He calls for greater input and involvement with parents and schools:

“Digital skills are essential across every business presenting many opportunities for the next generation. But many parents talking to their children about their careers will be more focused on traditional jobs – like being a doctor, or lawyer. We need to educate parents and those working with children of all ages about the opportunities that a career in tech can open up for them.”  

As part of its mission to help close the technology skills gap and encourage collaboration, Kainos created the Kainos Academy, which runs a comprehensive series of training and educational events for those who are passionate about a career in technology.

Kainos works with leading universities, government departments and other businesses and business groups to create programmes that will help to unearth the best digital talent.

It also works with parents and teachers to ensure children are educated about potential careers in IT. To date, over 5,000 people have benefitted from the Kainos Academy. 

The next two events planned include:

  • In its seventh year in Belfast and first in Birmingham, Kainos CodeCamp will teach 14-18-year olds the core essentials of everything from automation to cybersecurity, even giving students the chance to build their own app. The two-week-long programme will run from Monday 22nd July – Friday 2nd August. The closing date for applications is 21st June and Kainos is currently inviting applications from students. 
  • Kainos A.I.Camp will also be making a return, following the success of last year’s event, where many of those who attended were offered full time jobs at Kainos. A practical course for STEM university students teaching the fundamentals of AI, A.I.Camp will take place in Birmingham from Monday 9th – Saturday 21st September and Belfast from Monday 19th –Saturday 31st August.

Both camps are free to attend and form just the first step of a potential learning and employment journey at Kainos.

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