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Digital industry will play a critical role in the UK’s economic recovery post-lockdown

Sheila Flavell CBE, COO of FDM Group and Chair of the IoC’s Industry Advisory Board
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@IoCoding – Supporting the UK’s national economic recovery by helping people upskill and reskill for jobs in tech 

Amidst the pandemic, the tech sector is seeing growth and has the second highest number of jobs advertised following the healthcare sector.[1]

Online digital skills courses provided by IoC partners have enrolled more than 600,000 learners to date, boosting their employability (almost 20% of learners on these courses are unemployed or looking for work and more than 50% are over the age of 25). [2]

The IoC is addressing the national digital skills crisis along with the tech sector, which will play a critical role in the UK’s economic recovery.

In a survey of IoC learners, 52% of respondents said they don’t currently work in tech, but would like to move into a tech role or are in interested in tech.[3]

As we live through another national lockdown, more than 1.6 million people are currently out of work in the UK, and the unemployment rate has hit a three-year high at 4.8%. Despite this worrying situation, the tech sector continues to be strong. New data from Tech Nation shows that digital tech has seen a 36% increase in vacancies from June to August 2020, and is second only to healthcare for the number of jobs advertised. This growth will continue as we move into a ‘new normal’ where the tech sector is expected to power our economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic. 

The Institute of Coding (IoC), a government-supported initiative designed to respond to the UK’s digital skills gap, is upskilling and reskilling a diverse group of people through university level digital skills courses, many of which are available online. By addressing the national skills crisis through the provision of flexible, short courses that have been created with input from major employers, the IoC is contributing to an inclusive, tech-driven economic recovery, with no one left behind.

Sheila Flavell CBE, COO of FDM Group and Chair of the IoC’s Industry Advisory Board, said: “The upskilling of the UK’s workforce is critical to our national economic recovery. We need to safeguard the pipeline of talent that is being created by the Institute of Coding’s sector-leading university and industry collaboration in order to ensure that all people can take advantage of the high-quality employment opportunities that are available in tech.” 

Julian David, CEO of techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, said: “Research from techUK shows that 71% of managers and decision makers believe that businesses will become more dependent on digital technology due to the pandemic.[4]

“Our members have a growing need for employees with all levels of digital skills, from cyber security and data science specialists to people with more generalised digital and tech knowledge. A lack of digital skills and expertise is one key barrier they face when it comes to fully adopting digital technologies. Online learning is a great way for people to expand and upgrade their skills and will allow more of us to take advantage of the opportunities available in the tech sector.” 

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The IoC’s short, flexible online courses are a proven pathway that people are using to upskill and reskill in digital, boosting their employment prospects. In a November survey with responses from more than 1,000 learners who have enrolled on one or more IoC-supported online course:

  • 75% said their digital skills had improved as a result of the course
  • 57% felt more prepared for their future career
  • 55% have more confidence working in tech

Further, 52% of people said they don’t currently work in tech, but would like to move into a tech role or are interested in tech. This feedback confirms the high level of interest in upskilling or reskilling for a career in tech, and the IoC is addressing this need.

The IoC project is currently scheduled to end on 31st March 2021, at a time where the national need for a pivot to digital skills education and training will be more important than ever.

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President of techUK and IoC Co-Chair, said: “There has never been a more critical time to learn how to live and work online. Economic recovery will be slower if this digital skills crisis is not addressed. The Institute of Coding is injecting targeted learning opportunities to pivot large numbers of learners across the country towards its new digital reality. Having enrolled 675,000 people on innovative and accessible digital skills courses, the IoC widens pathways for diverse talent to improve employability and prepare us all for what comes next.”

Methodology: Information and statistics on the demographic makeup of the learners taking IoC-supported online courses is based on a voluntary survey that is provided to learners on the FutureLearn platform. The IoC conducted a survey in November of learners who had taken one or more IoC course. To date, more than 1,000 learners have responded. 

[2] Information on learner demographics is obtained through a voluntary survey of learners who have taken one or more IoC online course on the FutureLearn platform.

[3] Information is from an IoC-conducted survey, with more than 1,000 responses from learners who have taken one or more IoC course.

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