As young people across the country consider their next steps in work or education following the release of this year’s A-Level results, a technology industry expert has warned that a continuing lack of digital skills risks the future success of the UK sector.
Jenny Taylor, UK Foundation Manager, UK IBM Early Professional Programmes, commented: “Despite our economy being increasingly digitally focused, we continue to face a lack of digital skills in the UK. This could be damaging for the growth of the technology sector in particular, with some valuing the lost GDP for the UK economy at £63 billion a year.
“At IBM, we are actively working to make a difference here. We have engaged in a significant number of initiatives, in particular through the Tech Partnership, which brings employers together to collaborate on improving digital skills in the UK. For example, we helped to develop their Tech Industry Gold accreditation, which is designed to provide students with the most relevant academic learning, alongside the technical, business and interpersonal skills that place them in high demand in the technology sector.”
Taylor added: “IBM was a founding employer sponsor of the Tech Gold IT Management for Business degree and also most recently of the new Digital & Technology Solutions BSc (Hons) Degree Apprenticeship. As both of these initiatives have employer involvement right from the start, the students gain the necessary employability skills and academic knowledge to make them ideal recruits for our industry.”
“Another issue facing our industry is the STEM skills shortage,” continued Taylor. “To tackle this, we need to start at school, making STEM more attractive to much younger children and by incentivising schools and colleges. Businesses can also play a part in demonstrating to school children how STEM skills in the workplace can lead to rewarding and interesting career opportunities – something we’ve tried to achieve with our school outreach programme.
“It’s also really important to recognise that studying a STEM or digital skills related subject does not necessarily lead to employment. For example, Computer Science graduates have one of the highest unemployment rates. Technical expertise is of course important, but this will always need to go hand in hand with teamwork and interpersonal skills.”
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