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UK MUST NURTURE HOME GROWN TALENT TO SUCCEED IN SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, NEW REPORT WARNS
23/7/2014

UK MUST NURTURE HOME GROWN TALENT TO SUCCEED IN SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, NEW REPORT WARNS

Britain faces a growing shortage of digital skills in the economy and must better harness home grown talent to succeed in a second industrial revolution, the independent report of the UK Digital Skills Taskforce will warn today.

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Britain faces a growing shortage of digital skills in the economy and must better harness home grown talent to succeed in a second industrial revolution, the independent report of the UK Digital Skills Taskforce will warn today.


Led by Maggie Philbin, former Tomorrow’s World presenter, technology broadcaster and Chief Executive of TeenTech, the Taskforce was commissioned by Ed Miliband to make a series of independent recommendations to inform political debate ahead of the general election.


The need for digital skills is only going to grow: the Science Council estimates that the ICT workforce alone will grow by 39% by 2030. A 2013 O2 report, The Future Digital Skills Needs of the UK Economy, estimated that 745,000 additional workers with digital skills will be needed to meet rising demand from employers between 2013 and 2017.


Yet as of March 2014 there were still 975,000 young people in the UK who were not in education, employment or training, despite Microsoft reporting that there were 100,000 unfilled vacancies in partner companies across the UK last year.


The report – Digital Skills for Tomorrow’s World – will be presented to the Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna MP, at a launch event at Telefonica’s Wayra Academy in London today.


The report makes a number of recommendations, including:


• Government should invest at least an additional £20 million by 2020 to help successfully embed the new computing curriculum in schools across England. Current funding levels of £3.5m equate to just £175 per school.


• Digital skills are essential not just to the labour market, but to participation in everyday life. Government should invest to extend basic digital skills to all of the UK population by 2020, sharing the cost with businesses and the charitable sector.


• Computing should become a fourth ‘core science’. There should be a digital component to education and training opportunities for young people up to the age of 19.


• Radical simplification of the apprenticeship system to ensure that more digital businesses, especially SMEs, invest in apprentices. The process remains too opaque for businesses of all sizes.


• A new ‘Digital Challenge for schools’, modelled on the successful London Challenge initiative, to foster partnerships between schools and businesses and raise standards of teaching, showcase career opportunities and inspire a new generation into technology


• Sandwich years and industrial placements should be expanded for computer science students and university computer science departments should have active Industrial Advisory Boards to help keep them updated with industry developments.

 

Maggie Philbin, Chair of the UK Digital Skills Taskforce said:


“Britain is in the midst of another industrial revolution and only by engendering the spirit that allowed us to thrive so well in the first will we succeed in the second. For this to happen we need our young people to see technology and related applied sciences as a future that they can help create. If you have the right skills, if you have the right network, if you have the right attitude, this is a time of opportunity. We have to make sure we equip everyone in the UK for the digital revolution. Not just a fortunate few.”

Commenting on the report of UK Digital Skills Taskforce Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP said:

“Too many people in Britain today are locked out of the growing opportunities offered by the digital economy because of a lack of digital skills. The report of the independent Digital Skills Taskforce makes an important contribution and shines a much-needed spotlight on the digital skills gap and the need to give everyone – and particularly those entering the labour market – the tools they need to thrive and succeed.  

“To create more of the high-skilled, better-paid jobs we need, develop Britain’s knowledge economy and ensure a pipeline of skilled employees for business, it is essential that we meet the challenge this report sets out.”

Notes to editors:
1. The executive summary of Digital Skills for Tomorrow’s World is attached under embargo


2. The UK Digital Skills Taskforce is led by Maggie Philbin. Maggie is probably best known through her work on Tomorrow’s World and has since enjoyed a successful career as a technology broadcaster and founder of TeenTech – a community interest company that works to inspire young people about the world of technology. She was recently named the 5th most influential person in IT by Computer Weekly


3. Commissioned by Ed Miliband, the work of the UK Digital Skills Taskforce has been undertaken independently of any political party. Its recommendations will be sent to every political party to inform manifesto development ahead of the general election. A full list of Taskforce members can be found here: http://www.ukdigitalskills.com/#who. The final report and its recommendations are the responsibility of Maggie Philbin.


4. The report was informed by an extensive literature review, 8 regional meetings across the country and hundreds of evidence submissions and survey responses from businesses, education providers, voluntary sector organisations and individuals.

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