The government has published two pieces of research, one with Burning Glass Technologies looking at the demand for digital skills across the country, and another, with the University of Warwick, looking ahead at the skills needed now and in the future. These reports prove useful in quantifying the UK’s growing digital skills gaps and highlight the need for ‘21st Century Skills’ – skills provisions that look to and beyond digital.
Earlier this year, techUK surveyed parents working in tech to find out what they thought the future of work held for their children. Parents working in tech roles are not convinced that, as it stands, the education system will help develop the opportunities required for their children. 73 per cent of those surveyed felt the curriculum did not place sufficient emphasis on the types of skills that would become more vital in the future world of work – with 90 per cent believe their children would need to retrain throughout their lives to keep up with the pace of technological change.
It is clear from the new research and techUK's report, that there must be greater focus on relevant education and skills for both our young people and workers who need to reskill throughout their lives. There needs to be a balanced approach to the curriculum that supports knowledge-based learning whilst also nurturing skills such as critical-thinking and team work. Adaptability, a skill that will be vital in the 21st Century, will be a key differentiator in a knowledge economy and these subjects must be properly supported.
We also need to make tech an attractive opportunity for all, which is why techUK has launched a new tool highlighting the variety of pathways into a tech career – from 16 year olds considering their future careers for the first time or returners looking to get back into work and to do something new. By signposting different ways to enter the sector, techUK hopes to raise awareness of the opportunities available and the diversity of routes in.
A recent CBI report showed that businesses know they play an important part in the skills landscape, with over 80 per cent of businesses acknowledging that they have a role and responsibility to help train the UK workforce. As businesses get ready for a gear change in upskilling, government now has an opportunity to rebalance what skills training looks like across the country to tackle current and future digital skills challenges.