Tackling the digital skills crisis

Regina Moran
By , - Enabling Digital

The UK is headed for a looming digital skills crisis – that’s the verdict from a committee of MPs this week. It is a shocking (but unsurprising) finding that the UK will need another 745,000 workers with digital skills by next year.

According to the Commons Science and Technology Committee, 12.6 million adults lack basic digital skills, with 5.8 million having never used the internet at all.

Reading through the committee’s report you find some pretty damning statistics:

  • Only 70% of the required number of computer science teachers have been recruited
  • Just over a third (35%) of computer science teachers have a relevant qualification
  • The skills gap costs our economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost income

Our increasingly digitally-led business environment means STEM and digital skills are essential in the UK, both within the booming technology sector and virtually every other industry. Indeed, nine in 10 jobs require digital skills to some degree, according to the committee of MP’s report.

It also rightly points out: “Digital exclusion has no place in the 21st century”.

To protect our future economy, we must encourage uptake of STEM subjects among schoolchildren, and government initiatives like the upcoming Digital Strategy are important.

However, it’s clearly an issue that STEM subjects still suffer from an image problem.

It’s often assumed that the only jobs that you can get with a degree in maths or engineering are highly technical, difficult and even dull.

STEM is something we’re passionate about at Fujitsu. We must tackle these prejudices and showcase how exciting digital jobs can be, both within tech and other sectors. Technology is being used to address some of the most crucial issues in the world, and solutions are becoming ever more people-centric.

The committee’s report calls on the technology sector to take the lead on helping to address some of these problems.

At Fujitsu we’re proud that initiatives such as our Ambassador programme, where we work directly with education establishments across the country to put the newest technologies in the hands of the young and disadvantaged.

The scheme has been so successful we’re working to roll this out further. This is so that even more people can be better equipped for the jobs market of the future.

We also believe creativity and innovation can be as important as technical skill in fast-moving digital jobs that present new challenges every day.

It is only by engaging a diverse array of young people in STEM that we can hope to protect the future competitiveness of the UK economy.

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