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Tackling the 10 year digital skills gap

With advancements in technology moving at an ever-increasing pace, the recruitment market for the tech sector is moving at breakneck speed. Only there’s a problem…

The digital sector in the UK is growing at an unprecedented rate. At present, digital tech industries in the UK are growing 32% faster than any other sector. 

It’s not confined to London either, with clusters emerging across the country- Bournemouth has seen a 212% growth in technology firms since 2010. 

Although demand for tech roles has never been greater, there is a respective growth in lack of candidates with suitable credentials. With an estimated 750,000 tech roles being left unfilled by the end of 2017, with current provisions this gap isn’t going to get smaller.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee have claimed that this will cost the UK economy up to 62 billion each year, and are now calling upon the government to implement “effective interventions”. 

It is estimated that if growth continues at this remarkable rate, we can expect 4.5 million roles across the UK to be vacant by 2026.

What can be done to lessen the gap?

With students growing up as digital natives, it is a case of harnessing those skills and funnelling them into the growing tech sector. There will also have to be a change of mind-set with those currently in education. 

There is currently so much focus on gaining a degree before entering the workforce, which in the longer term could be disastrous for the industry. Rather companies must emphasise training within speciality fields, and capture the imaginations of school students, utilising their skills early, before they choose the higher education route.

Tel Aviv is an example of a city that has effectively embraced this challenge: over the past few years there has been an explosion of technology start-ups coming out of “Silicon Wadi”.  

Due to Israel’s mandatory conscription for 18 year olds, a huge number of young people enlist for between two and three years with the Israel Defence Force’s Directorate of Military Intelligence - the Israeli equivalent of Mi5. Provision of the correct training at this pivotal age has put Israel at the forefront of the cybersecurity revolution.

That doesn’t mean to say that young people should completely dismiss higher education and a degree. 

Professional academies across the UK, like Novus, are investing heavily in developing bespoke training courses for various IT roles. Their aim is to ensure that the brightest talent is given exceptional project experience once they graduate, alongside the opportunity to gain professional accreditation, in the workplace. 

There is no shortage of young people keen to succeed, so by combining the right support from business with an evolution in professional attitudes, we could see the impending skills gap start to lessen.

By Ali Subhan, business development manager, Capita IT Professional Services

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