As the UK government continues to make announcements that will impact the digital economy of the country, it is important for us know why workplace learning is so important.
A staggering 90 per cent of all new jobs require digital skills and 72 per cent of employers claim they would not even interview a candidate who did not possess basic computer skills, according to the Tinder Foundation. Yet despite this, ten per cent of the UK has never used the internet.
To continue competing in the digital market on a global level, the inclusion of those who lack knowledge in the digital and tech sector must become a priority to ensure no one is left behind.
With the publication of the Digital Strategy (designed to make the country the best place to start growth and a digital business) and the government's commitment in the Chancellor’s Budget of £40 million to pilot lifelong learning programmes, the digital economy in the UK is likely to be directly impacted.
Over the lifetime of the Digital Strategy, as many as four million free digital skills training courses will be offered to individuals, SMEs and charities. According to the New Statesman, encouraging people and businesses to provide digital training and learning is vital to the UK’s next phase of growth as a leading digital economy.
An example of this is Leeds City Council’s campaign “100% Digital Leeds”, which hopes to equip digitally excluded residents throughout the region with basic online skills. The pilot initiative will include providing 800 homes with free state-of-the-art superfast broadband infrastructure, as well as expanding a tablet computer-lending scheme. If these schemes are successful, they will be rolled out across the city.
It is also important for the government to consider changes in demographics, as life expectancy increases and people are working longer than they ever have done before. In addition to this, the way people work is changing. For example, workers are staying in jobs for less time, and moving from company to company as they grow their career.
With the rapid advancement of technology, there will also be creation and loss of jobs. With many physical roles becoming automated and managed by machines, while we require people to create, develop and engineer this technology. Instead of living in fear that our jobs may be replaced, we must adapt and advance the nation's skills.
Technology is moving at a pace we have never seen before and to stay relevant, workers must have access to the latest developments. Learning and training is now moving online and is proving to be much quicker, relevant and effective than traditional one-to-one and classroom training. Online courses are accessible at any time of the day and allow companies and organisations to learn on mass. As reported by the New Statesman, workplace learning is optimised when employees have their skill level assessed at the outset, and can then learn through online on-demand courses taught by industry experts.
A blended learning approach that utilises technology such as video, animation, quizzes and online articles encourages problem solving and becomes more interactive.
Although it is crucial for the UK’s businesses and organisations to provide continuous workplace learning, we are already seeing some encouraging strides toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Last month, Tech City released a report that revealed that each year the UK’s digital industries contribute £97 billion to the wider economy. In addition to this, there are 1.64 million people now employed in the digital sector, which is growing at a rate twice as fast as any other sector.
Yet this will not continue until the UK fully embraced a continuous learning culture so that our future workforce has the job security and expertise for our post-Brexit digital economy.