College leading the way out of digital skills shortage ‘disaster’
By Sarah Wood
Gloucestershire College is bucking the trend, following a report that the UK could face a "catastrophic gap" in digital skills.
That was the warning from a recent report published by the Learning Work Institute and WorldSkills UK.
The report found that nationally young people studying IT subjects is declining. But Gloucestershire College has seen increased demand for its IT, cyber and digital courses and apprenticeships.
Student applications for September 2021 starts have significantly grown across the board, with applications for the college's university level courses - computing and digital degrees, HNCs and HNDs - increasing by 143 per cent year on year.
Matthew Burgess, principal and CEO of Gloucestershire College, said: "We are committed to developing the creators and makers of the future, by providing relevant technical education in computing, digital and cyber, which in turn, provides a continuous talent pool to futureproof Gloucestershire businesses.
"I'm delighted and proud that we can support our county and satisfy the significant increase in applications for our digital courses. These will be taught by industry expert staff in state-of-the-art computing classrooms, thanks to our £3 million investment from the West of England Institute of Technology. This strategic partnership combining education, research and employers is crucial in continuing to close the digital skills gap and reverse the report's national findings."
The college has already made great headway in this field. Minister for apprenticeships Gillian Keegan visited the college last September to officially launch its cyber degree apprenticeship, and earlier this year it was awarded the prestigious Tech Industry Gold standard.
The college's excellence in computing degree provision continues to go from strength to strength. This September sees the start of its IT BSc (Hons) top up degree pathway - a degree progression route for HNC and HND students; and the new digital and technology solutions degree apprenticeship - all accredited by UWE Bristol, the University of the West of England.
The College's extensive and quality provision is reassurance for Gloucestershire, given the concern raised in the report's national findings:
• The number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has fallen by 40 per cent since 2015, with the number taking A Levels, further education courses and apprenticeships all declining
• 60 per cent of employers expect their reliance on advanced digital skills to increase in the next five years
• 76 per cent of businesses say that a lack of digital skills would affect the profitability of their business
Digital skills are high in demand and this has only been intensified by the impact of the Covid pandemic, with employers struggling to recruit the level of skills they need.
Julie Tegg, Gloucestershire College's director of employer training and apprenticeships said: "We work closely with hundreds of employers across the county to provide bespoke employee training and apprenticeship programmes across multiple industries.
"Digital, computing and cyber skills are so important in any industry now - no matter what sector you work in, or how large your company is. Companies are reliant on online strategies to promote their offerings, and in turn any employer's website and internal systems could be taken down by hackers.
"This is a real threat to all and we are here to support employers by providing them with the right training, technical skills and apprentices to both grow digital opportunities, and combat cyber threats."
To find out more about the college's IT and computing courses, visit www.gloscol.ac.uk/computing
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