The UK is heading towards a “catastrophic” digital skills shortage “crisis”, a think tank has warned.
The Learning & Work Institute says the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped 40% since 2015.
Meanwhile, consulting giant Accenture says demand for AI, cloud, and robotics skills are soaring.
Experts say digital skills are vital to economic recovery following the pandemic.
The Learning & Work Institute’s research reveals that 70% of young people expect employers to invest in teaching them digital skills on the job, but only half of the employers surveyed within the study are ready to provide that training.
Fewer than half of British employers believe children are leaving full-time education with sufficient advanced digital skills, while 76% of firms think a scarcity of digital skills would hit their profitability.
Dr. Neil Bentley-Gockmann is that the chief executive of WorldSkills UK, which commissioned the report. The charity is concentrated on training children in digital skills to assist them to enter the workforce and also advises college teachers on international industry best practices.
He says there are four main reasons why the digital skills shortage is steadily climbing across the country:
- a scarcity of clearly-defined job roles in certain fields
- a scarcity of understanding and guidance about potential career paths
- a lack of relatable role models
- an issue in making many technical professions seem appealing to the young crowd, especially young women
Dr. Bentley-Gockmann said, “I think there’s a challenge with the teachers themselves not understanding the possible careers – there’s an enormous opportunity for employers to travel into schools to elucidate the range of job opportunities and help join the dots between what children study in class and what that would cause as a career”.
“It’s important for employers to undertake this to ensure the long run talent pipeline.”
WorldSkills UK runs various digital skill competitions during a wide selection of fields that are hospitable for children at school age and up. About 15,000 children enter these competitions annually, which accompany complimentary training to assist them to enhance their skills further.
Dr. Bentley-Gockmann says he meets many children who haven’t any concept their hobbies often become “high-rewarding job opportunities”.
For instance, coding might sound boring or daunting, but it could lead to a career in 3D video game design. And twiddling with robots in class could lead to a career in building robots to unravel problems for giant manufacturing firms.
Although tech job ad listings dropped 57% in 2020, Accenture reports that demand for robotics skills has jumped “dramatically” in several northern English cities since July – robotics jobs are up 115% in Liverpool, 253% in Leeds, and an epic 450% in Newcastle.
“I’m unsurprised, particularly, as within the West Midlands and thus the North, traditional manufacturers are now implementing more technology into their manufacturing processes to become more automated,” said Dr. Bentley-Gockmann.
“There’s been a digital acceleration altogether sectors, creating new skills needs, so as that would explain the jump.”