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BRIDGING THE DIGITAL SKILLS GAP

Tuesday 1st September 2015
In a recent article published by HR Magazine, it was reported that almost half of UK businesses (47%) are experiencing an extensive shortage of IT talent, which is hampering productivity according to recent research.

In the report, it was also cited that almost 30% of businesses in the in the UK say insufficient skills in the digital area are impacting on customer services.

The innovative nature of IT can often mean that demand for new IT skills outstrips supply. As new technologies move through the cycle from invention to mainstream application, there is a constant need by businesses to keep reassessing skills, training and recruiting, to ensure that they are able to meet changing demands.

WHY IS THERE A SKILLS GAP?
Businesses now rely on technology more than ever before to outperform competitors, whether it is by investing in a new website or by offering additional digital services such as e-commerce to their consumers, the demand for skilled IT workers has never been higher (See our earlier blog).

The magnitude of training and re-skilling that is required to keep up with new digital innovations is enormous, requiring significant investment by businesses both in time and money. Moreover, each new technology cycle has brought forth new requirements and these cycles are increasingly in their frequency placing greater strain on resources.  

Employees are under a certain amount of pressure to maintain and update their skills more frequently if they wish to stay relevant in this rapidly-changing digital environment.

“A study carried out on behalf of O2 towards the end of 2013 found that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017 - and if we can't support that growth, it could result in costing the UK as much as £2bn each year.” (Tech Radar)

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO BRIDGE THE SKILLS GAP?
It was announced today in a report by ‘Recruitment International’ that CodeClan, Scotland’s first digital skills academy has announced an exclusive scholarship to fund outstanding applicants through its first ground-breaking coding course.

The scheme set up by CodeClan aims to produce 20 work ready software developers after every 16 week course completed. CodeClan graduates could help to bridge this significant skills gap, in Scotland at least. Forecasts suggest Scotland alone could offer up to 11,000 job opportunities in the digital sector, rising 2000 every year. If this type of dedicated digital skills academy proves to be successful, could we see more of them popping up at other locations around the UK?

A focus is being put on to the younger generation, who are viewed by many as the future of the digital industry. In a bid to entice and attract younger generations to pursue technology-based courses and careers, coding was added to the school curriculum last September and on a smaller scale, mentoring programmes and code clubs have increased for children as early as primary school age. 

Coding in school and extra-curricular groups can help to embed these in-demand skills from an early age and can give young people the knowledge and tools to think like a programmer. We should see the digital skills gap as an incentive for businesses to invest in young people and teach the future generation of workers the necessary skills they will need in this technologically-driven world. 

What are your thoughts? Is it realistic to place some onus on employers of today for employees of the future? Is there more that can be done to bridge the digital skills gap? What else can employers to do develop their existing employees in an effort to bridge the skills gap? Should IT professionals be responsible for funding their own training to keep skills up to date?

 Tweet us @amsourcetech.

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