UK heading for digital skills disaster
By Sarah Wood
The UK is heading towards a huge shortage in digital skills, according to a think tank.
The Learning & Work Institute says the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped by 40 per cent since 2015, as reported by the BBC.
This comes at a time when demand for AI, cloud and robotics skills is soaring, according to consulting giant Accenture.
The Learning & Work Institute's research found that 70 per cent of young people expect employers to invest in teaching digital skills on the job, but only half of the employers surveyed can provide the necessary training.
Less than half of British employers believe young people are leaving education with sufficient advanced digital skills for the workplace, while 76 per cent of businesses think a lack of digital skills will hit profits.
The report was commissioned by WorldSkills UK, a charity focused on training young people in digital skills to help them enter the workforce. The charity also advises college teachers on international industry best practice.
According to WorldSkills UK, the main reasons for the increasing digital skills shortage are:
• A lack of clearly-defined jobs in some fields
• A lack of understanding and guidance about potential career paths
• A lack of relatable role models in the industry
• Difficulty in making technical professions seem appealing to young people, particularly young women
The charity says part of the problem is teachers not understanding the potential careers available to young people. It says there is a big opportunity for businesses to go into schools to explain what is available to help bridge the gap and encourage young people to think about a bigger range of career options.
Many young people don't realise that their hobbies and interests could lead to rewarding careers.
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