A joint government, tech and finance industry roundtable has highlighted the need to signpost pathways to close the digital skills gap.
UK workers are missing out on additional earnings of £5.69bn because of a lack of digital skills, research by Virgin Media 02 and CEBR has found.
Nurturing digital talent through government and business collaboration is crucial to capitalising on the opportunity that digital jobs and growth bring, it was agreed at the roundtable. It was held jointly by technology trade association techUK, Lord Mayor of the City of London the Rt Hon. Nicholas Lyons, technology minister Paul Scully MP, and employment minister Guy Opperman MP.
- discussed specific suggestions for the government to consider on digital skills programmes and supporting pathways
- explored tangible actions industry stakeholders should take forward individually and collectively
- identified areas for greater industry and government partnership.
Hundreds of thousands of digital roles are posted on job boards across the UK every year, but a huge number of these jobs go unfilled due to a shortage of skills. It was discussed.
Digital skills are also crucial for getting people back into and progressing in work.
According to Financial Services Skill Commission data, reskilling existing staff into new roles can save firms up to £49k per person (compared to a redundancy and rehire approach).
Attendees agreed that digital jobs are a key route to a high-salary high-productivity economy. Research suggests that digitally skilled workers have been shown to be twice as productive as non-digital workers. On average salaries in digitally intensive jobs are estimated at £62.5k.
The roundtable highlighted the need for better signposting of pathways for people to gain digital skills, from returners seeking to re-enter the workforce, economically inactive people, and people seeking to switch up into digital jobs. This signposting should also consider the role of place in reaching SME employers and prospective learners across all regions of the UK.
Other key points:
- Standardised accreditation would help prospective learners and employers in recognising the qualifications needed for digital careers.
- It was recognised that, while there is a lot of activity in the digital skills space, working together will ensure that current efforts are greater than the sum of their parts.