Science and Technology Committee – Digital skills crisis

Second report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

It is essential for the UK to have the IT professionals it needs to build a robust digital economy.

Many organisations are not maximising the potential of new digital technologies or utilising the skills and talents of their employees in the most productive way. Almost 50% of employers have a digital skills gap, which includes specialist technical roles.

It is thought 12.6 million adults lack basic digital skills, while 5.8 million have never used the internet at all.

“Stubborn digital exclusion and systemic problems” with education and training need to be urgently addressed, the report said. It urged the government’s digital strategy to be published without delay.

The report found that:
– 22% of IT equipment in schools is ineffective
– Just 35% of computer science teachers had a relevant qualification
– Only 70% of the required number of computer science teachers have been recruited
– The UK needs another 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017
– 90% of jobs require digital skills to some degree
– Skills gaps costs economy around £63bn a year in lost income

The report calls for businesses to invest in more and better training at all levels of education.

“The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow’s workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need,” said the committee’s chairwoman, Nicole Blackwood. In response a government spokesperson said: “This government recognises the crucial role digital skills play in our society and economy. Our Digital Strategy, to be published shortly, will set out how we will help employers and individuals access the tools they need to power our digital economy.”