Digital skills are related to being digitally literate, anything from setting up a new mobile phone to coding an entire website. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the sector has experienced exponential Digital growth that we wouldn’t normally see within a short space of time.
This industry has been estimated to go from £82.7bn to an additional £41.5bn by 2025 within the economy, (1). If we then think about how many jobs will be necessary, we come down to the major question: will we have enough skills to hire for these jobs?
This gap was causing problems even before the pandemic, with a 2016 government report, (2), linking one in five of all vacancies to a shortage of digital skills.
Over the next five years, the global workforce can absorb around 149 million technology-oriented jobs, (3).
Digital skills in the ever-growing digital world, are skills needed for life. The importance of us as Schools and FE establishments, to introduce and develop these skills for our students has never been more critical. Supporting students to be able to adapt to the digital world is necessary. This can include offering practical advice on how to develop digital skills, such as joining a coding club or volunteering to help others learn digital skills.
The number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE level has fallen by 40% since 2015, according to the Learning and Work Institute. However, consulting firm Accenture says the demand for AI, cloud, and robotics skills are soaring. 56% of leaders anticipate a digital skills gap that will hold them back from recovery and growth in the current economic climate, while just 27% of UK leaders believe the education system offers adequate digital training for pupils, (4).
Digital Skills apprenticeships support these essential skills. Apprenticeships can skill a new workforce, through hiring an apprentice. They can be used to re-skill staff into much-needed roles as well as upskill staff to become more knowledgeable in their area.
Digital skills apprenticeships can provide a structured programme for individuals to learn and develop a range of digital skills that are applicable in many different industries and can be used throughout their lives. Such as; Project management skills, communication skills, leadership skills, time management skills, problem-solving skills, and adaptability skills to name a few. Not to mention the required skills for the sector such as; Computer programming skills, Web development skills: computer proficiency, skills in data analysis, as well as SEO.
How will we expect our future talent to grow in line with the digital job needs of 2025 if we don’t invest in those skills now? While not everyone needs to become a data scientist, everyone will need a basic level of data literacy to operate and thrive in increasingly ‘data-rich’ environments.
A study by Barclays has found that 43% of adults in the UK do not have basic digital skills, such as word-processing, database, spreadsheet, or social media management skills, that are required by around 63% of jobs and this gap is likely to worsen as technology advances, (5).
Digital is becoming an integral part of every business, without access to the right digital skills, employers cannot drive transformation forward. Employers should look to the future and identify their needs, to create ‘digital readiness’ and future-proof their businesses now! As technology changes the nature of jobs changes too, and this will affect all businesses.
We feel things aren’t moving fast enough to meet the demand and supply of workers with the digital skills sought by employers now, let alone tomorrow.
We pledge to;
Support businesses to identify the skills they need and unlock potential.
Commit to supporting the talent shortage by teaching the knowledge skills and behaviours to re-skill, upskill, and support new hires through digital skills apprenticeships.
Remain committed to supporting the skills required to meet this demand and bridge the digital skills gap.
Increase equality and opportunity in the digital world and continue to advocate for Women in Tech!
Continue to embrace the future by remaining digitally driven and ask businesses and education providers to work alongside us.
By ensuring the curriculum is up to date by embedding knowledge on new systems and technology, and with the support of working with schools, colleges, and FE providers in encouraging students to think digital, we can encourage the growth of new talent in this sector.
By acknowledging the digital skills gap and supporting these skills now, we are supporting the skills needed in the workplace for tomorrow.
The digital skills gap is widening, let’s bridge the digital skills gap, let’s think digital skills apprenticeships!
- DCMSDigitalSkillsReportJan2016.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)
- Microsoft launches initiative to help 25 million people worldwide acquire the digital skills needed in a COVID-19 economy – The Official Microsoft Blog
- UK’s digital skills gap poses risk to economic recovery, research reveals (microsoft.com)
- More than 40% of people in UK do not have digital skills required for most jobs | Computer Weekly
Author: Jas Dhillon
Business Development Lead at althaus digital
(National Apprenticeship Week, 2023)