Industry backs Govt pledge to tackle digital skills crisis

data science 1The tech industry has backed a Government programme to provide equal opportunities for adults to learn new skills, such as data science and coding, hailing it as both a “significant step in the right direction” and a chance to boost diversity in the sector.

The legislation is aimed at supporting the UK’s post-pandemic recovery by providing people with the chance to upskill and retrain regardless of their age.

This includes giving them access to student loans, providing employers with a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes, as well as granting the Secretary of State for Education greater influence in monitoring whether colleges meet local needs.

The new policies are part of the “Lifetime Skills Guarantee”, which last month launched 400 free qualifications, ranging from digital skills to social care.

Available to any adult who has not already achieved a qualification at Level 3, the digital qualifications offer digital skills boot camps in data science, software deployment, systems infrastructure, cyber security, and coding. The courses have already managed to train 3,000 people, with another 14,000 signed up to attend this year.

In a statement, Annette Allmark, the head of apprenticeships at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, said the Government’s plans “will allow more people to access the training in digital skills they need for their careers – and to develop the skills the economy needs to flourish and ‘build back better’ after the pandemic”. She added that the move is “a significant step in the right direction to address the digital skills gap”.

Allmark continued: “Hopefully, this funding will also increase the diversity of people learning digital skills now and in the future. It’s important that the Government continues to build on the many excellent training opportunities already available, such as the wide range of popular digital apprenticeships.

“There’s never been such a significant demand for digital skills – not just for an increasing number of digital occupations, but across all occupations as a result of businesses having to digitally transform during Covid.”

The pandemic has triggered huge interest in the tech sector, with British workers increasingly turning to courses as they seek to either retrain or boost their existing skills in the face the Covid-19 jobs bloodbath.

And it is perhaps no surprise that data, digital, and technology leaders are reaping the benefits of the pandemic-fuelled stampede to build specialist teams, securing a 55% increase in salaries across the board as companies work harder to attract and retain top-tier talent, according to UK recruitment company Xcede’s Salary Guide 2021.

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