TODAY the ScaleUp Institute and South Central Institute for Technology have released a report that outlines three critical priorities for addressing the UK’s digital skills gaps.
Titled ‘Levelling up through digital, computing and technology skills: Growing the UK’s domestic talent base’, the report outlines the scale of need and proposes that digital, computing and technology skills education adopt a transparent grading process – similar to the UK music grading system – that would be applicable for all ages.
Technical skills are a major barrier to growth for many of the UK’s fastest growing companies. The ScaleUp Institute’s Annual Review revealed that 66% of scaleups cite technical skills as the key issue of today, and 7 in 10 say access to talent is a key barrier to their growth.
Working with partners, the ScaleUp Institute and the South Central Institute of Technology believe there should be a clear, simultaneous focus on three critical priorities in the short term if the opportunities available are to be seized to drive forward our scaling economy. These include:
- Revolutionising the school curriculum to raise the status of Computer Science across all school and higher education ages by developing a clear accreditation process across all age groups and the introduction of a compulsory examination or minimum accreditation at Key Stage 4.
- Inspire students to see the breadth of career opportunities within their reach. And raise the recognition of the value of Digital, Computing and Technology skills through a concentrated National Campaign between the public and private sectors including role models and broad communications channels and platforms.
- Expand long-term initiatives to support lifelong learning and adult reskilling to service future economic needs and to give new opportunities for advancement to those outside formal education.
Adam Hale, Chair of ScaleUp Institute, said: “Digital, computing and technology skills are the new modern language, and knowledge of these fundamentals is almost a guarantee of a high productivity job for life. However, trying to hire more Computing teachers alone is not enough to help the skills crisis. Instead we will need to further embrace new methods and industry partnerships including scaling up what works today.”
“We also need to make sure the teaching curriculum embeds computing to a formal examination level. Other countries have done this and it has made a difference to their domestic skills capabilities. The UK now more than ever needs to double down on our existing technical skills efforts, and be bold and joined up in our learning evolution if we are to tackle the domestic skills crisis and address the needs of the high-value jobs of today and tomorrow.”
Eleanor Shaw, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Associate Principal, University of Strathclyde, said: “This is a very welcome and timely paper which makes clear: a) the need for tech and computing skills if the UK is to meet its ambitions for economic and social prosperity; and b) the gaping hole that exists in the numbers of students taking computing education, especially in schools.”
Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, Chair, Scottish Food & Drink, also commented: “This paper is hugely encouraging, it has taken time to understand the Scottish situation and proposed a series of timely interventions. If these solutions are rolled out across the UK they should lead to significant changes in subjects offered at school and in further education as part of enabling access to the computer science skills we need across the whole country.”
The ScaleUp Institute is a private-sector led, not-for-profit organisation focused on collaborating with policy makers, corporates, finance players, educators and Government at a local and national level. The Institute was founded in 2015 to help the UK improve its record in scaling companies which lags behind its major competitors after evidence showed that a one per cent boost to the UK scaleup population would boost the economy by hundreds of billions.