Digital skills ‘disaster’ approaching for the UK

In a time when digital skills are in demand as never before, young people are steering clear of IT subjects on universities, new research has found.

These are the conclusions of a new report from the Learning & Work Institute, a think tank that claims, if the trend continues, the UK is heading straight for a “catastrophic digital skills shortage disaster”. As reported by the BBC, the think tank found that the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE dropped by 40 percent in the last half a decade.

Most young people (70 percent) expect their employers to invest in teaching them digital skills while working, however just half of the employers actually do that. More than half of business owners, on the other hand, believe young workers leave full-time education insufficiently trained in digital skills, claiming this hurts their profitability.

Those that do study IT subjects – rarely conclude their full-time education with sufficient advanced digital skills and, instead, expect their employers to provide the necessary training on the job – however, this is rarely the case.  

Analyzing the results of the report, Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann, CEO of WorldSkills UK, noted four main reasons why the UK is seeing the skills gap widening, including not having clearly defined job roles in specific fields, a lack of communication about potential career paths, no relatable role models, and poor marketing, as technical professions aren’t appealing to young people, notably – young women.

“There’s a big opportunity for employers to go into schools to explain the range of job opportunities and help join the dots between what young people study in school and what that could lead to as a career,” Dr Bentley-Gockmann told the BBC.

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