Last updated: 28.07.14

New study shows rising need for digital skills and training in UK business

The UK corporate sector is becoming increasingly aware of the need for business training schemes to improve the digital skills of the country's current workforce, according to a new report.

Published by the UK Digital Skills Taskforce, the Digital Skills for Tomorrow's World report has made a number of recommendations following consultations with hundreds of organisations to find out what measures they feel need to be taken to ensure homegrown talent is able to meet the needs of modern business.

As of August 2012, the digital economy accounted for 14.4 per cent of all companies and 11 per cent of jobs. Estimates from the Science Council suggest that the ICT workforce will grow by 39 per cent by 2030 as this trend continues to gain pace.

Despite this, at present only £3.5 million in funding has been allocated to embedding the new computing curriculum in schools across England, which is set to commence this September. This equates to only £175 per school.

The report recommended that at least a further £20 million needs to be invested by 2020, with the aim of enshrining computing as a fourth core science within the UK educational system. Moreover, a digital component should be included in education and training opportunities up to the age of 19.

Other proposed measures include simplifying apprenticeship schemes to enable more digital businesses - especially smaller firms - to invest, while partnerships between schools and business could create new opportunities.

Sandwich years and industrial placements could also be expanded for computer science students, with industrial advisory boards created by university computer science departments. Overall, basic digital skills need to be extended to all of the UK by 2020, according to the paper.

Trends such as this could lead to increased use of e-learning courses, such as the more than 350 offered by Virtual College, as companies seek to provide their workers with the skills they need to thrive in the digital economy.

Technology broadcaster Maggie Philbin, chief executive of TeenTech and leader of this project, said: "Britain is in the midst of another industrial revolution and only by engendering the spirit that allowed us to thrive so well in the first will we succeed in the second.

"For this to happen we need our young people to see technology and related applied sciences as a future not which they might just benefit from but which they can help create."