Digital skills are more important than ever.
In an age of ongoing technological disruption, employers increasingly view them as a necessity, with at least 82 per cent of online advertised job openings in the UK requiring a good level of digital competencies from applicants. Yet over the years, research has consistently shown a growing deficit in the number of adequately skilled workers to fill these vacancies.
There have been many positive developments with responses to fill the digital skills gap, ranging from an increase in employer workplace training opportunities, to new technology institutes providing higher levels of technical education.
However, research such as the Shadbolt and Wakeham reviews and the UK Digital Strategy reveal that, despite these efforts, the lack of interaction between industry and education providers has actually widened the UK’s skills gap. Today, this gap translates into a staggering £10 billion economic loss in national productivity, with a projected figure of approximately 7 million under-qualified people in the workforce by 2030.
Individual companies and institutions have often opted to work directly with small groups of educators, for example, to address digital skills shortages that most likely exist across multiple industries. Considering the sheer scale of the problem, this is an inefficient way to go about closing the digital skills gap.
In order to radically improve this disjointed approach, we must start making the right connections and joining the dots across government, education and industry.
Nesta’s work with the government-backed Institute of Coding and leading social learning platform, FutureLearn, has brought together a world-class consortium of industry partners, educators and technologists to develop the Digital Skills for the Workplace online courses. These courses are designed to help individuals learn new career-focused digital skills as they navigate the changing world of work.
Practitioners, researchers and educators have worked collaboratively to create practical and accessible learning resources that address the challenges faced by employers, students and workers across the UK.
It is through establishing and encouraging this kind of network effect that we can better empower individuals looking to upskill and reskill into digital varied careers and help them to fulfil their potential in the digital economy, while also meeting the employment needs of the modern workplace.