We need a cross-party plan for skills and action to develop digital skills, say three landmark reports

4 March 2015

Three landmark reports have called for a shakeup of the UK’s skills system. The UK Commission on Employment and Skills (UKCES) has called for a cross party plan for skills; the Digital Skills Commitee has called for action on digital skills across six areas and Nesta has warned about the impact of children being left behind without adequate digital skills.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chair of UKCES, launched a report on the UK’s skills system to parliamentarians and leading business figures this week. The Growth Through People report is a 5-point manifesto for fixing the country’s skills crisis drawn up with the CBI and the TUC.
Recommendations include completely rethinking the way we train workers to put employers and trade unions in charge and transforming the way schools and colleges prepare young people for the world of work.

Meanwhile, the Digital Skills Committee has launched a report arguing that the country is not addressing its significant digital skills shortage and an incoming Government urgently needs to resolve this. The report, entitled Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, urges the incoming Government to seize the opportunity to secure the UK’s place as a global digital leader by, among other things:

making digital literacy a core subject at school, alongside English and Maths;
viewing the internet as important as a utility, accessible to all; and
putting a single ‘Digital Agenda’ at the heart of Government.

The report also noted that there are certain sectors of society, and UK regions, falling behind at great cost to the economy; and that industry has a vital role to play in developing the right skills in the workplace, in further and higher education, and in schools.
Another study published by Nesta points to a new digital divide: showing that for every child learning to make things using digital technology, over 60 are being left behind. Young Digital Makers, the first study of its kind, maps interest, opportunities and support in the UK – both in and out of school – for young people to learn how to use digital technologies to make their own apps, games, websites as well as editing music, videos, images and more.

The report finds that while over 8 million children are eager to get to grips with making things with digital technology, there were just 130,800 face-to-face opportunities available for them to learn outside of the classroom in the last year.

With demand greatly outstripping supply, innovation charity Nesta warns that the UK is neglecting its digital needs and the skills the economy will need in the future