As the digital revolution gains momentum with no sign of stopping, the UK finds that it has a shortage of workers with adequate digital skills, according to a report form the UK Digital Skills Taskforce.
The taskforce led by British radio and television personality Maggie Philbin, was commissioned by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband last November. It was formed with the hopes of closing the skills gap, writes Antony Savvas for Computer World UK.
The report suggests that the government should invest £20 million ($34 million) by 2020 in addition to the £3.5 million it has already allocated to aid schools in altering the curriculum to include more technology education.
In addition to funding, the report calls for more opportunities for apprenticeships in technological fields and for computer science to become a fourth core science in addition to physics, chemistry and biology, reports IT Pro.
Philbin 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.
By 2030 the Science Council has estimated that the IT workforce will grow by 39%. Between 2013-2017, O2 estimates that 745,000 additional workers with digital skills will be needed in order to meet the need of employers, writes Kayleigh Bateman for Computer Weekly.
Currently it looks like numbers will fall short. In March 2014, 975,000 young people are not in education, employment or training. Microsoft reported that 100,000 vacancies were left unfilled in its partner companies across the UK. This may have to do with stereotypes surrounding what jobs are in the tech industry and parents report that they would prefer their child to enter a traditional career as opposed to a digital one.
“Parents and teachers need to change their perspectives,” said Philbin. “And it’s really clear that our education system has to change to give young people the foundations they need to succeed in a digital economy.
As it stands now only 45% of secondary school teachers in the UK have qualifications relevant to the subject, and a majority of UK teachers have no computer background, reports Josie Gurney-Read for The Daily Telegraph.
In a poll conducted by Ocado, 73% of 250 UK primary school teachers feel that they have not been given the appropriate resources in order to teach the subject and in another survey 60% of teachers say they do not feel confident in teaching the subject. This highlights the need for extra funding from the government in order to help align curriculum to fit employers’ needs as the UK, along with nearly every other industrialized country on earth, moves forward into a digital era.