Opportunity for digital upskilling revealed by projected tech sector vacancies

The 2021 Digital Skills Audit from the UK Tech Cluster Group, supported by the Institute of Coding (IoC), states that with over 1.7 million people out of work in the UK, there is an opportunity for a national pivot to upskilling in digital, which will also support economic recovery.

The whitepaper shows that the tech sector has continued to see growth in 2020. 42% of tech companies reported an increase in revenue over the past 12 months, with 32% staying the same. Meanwhile, almost half (46%) said that they had increased their employee headcount.

According to Tech Nation, 10% of all advertised vacancies in the UK are currently from the tech sector, the second highest number of vacancies following the healthcare sector, and that 100,000 vacancies will be present in the industry by June if growth continues at its current rate.

Upskilling in digital

The IOC is a government-supported initiative designed to respond to the UK’s digital skills gap, has already enrolled more than 800,000 people as it marks three years of upskilling learners, but is scheduled to end on the 31st March 2021.

Courses set up by the institute aim to be accessible to a large variety of people from a diverse range of backgrounds, and have been created with input from major employers to help meet the demands of the national skills crisis.

A recent survey of its learners found that 25% saw their work situation improve as a result of taking a course – either by gaining a promotion, taking on more responsibilities or taking on a new more technical job.

Respondents also reported themselves to be better prepared for future careers (63%), more confident working in tech (61%) and more confident to apply for tech roles (54%).

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Sheila Flavell CBE, chair of the IoC’s Industry Advisory Board and COO of FDM Group, said: “The data that we are seeing shows growth in the tech sector both in terms of investment and the number of job vacancies, with more than 75,000 open job advertisements in November alone.

“The UK’s digital skills gap is now directly impacting people’s ability to access these positions in a key future-facing sector. The Institute of Coding has created a strong pipeline of talent through their innovative university and industry collaboration, and we need to ensure that people can continue to access this digital skills education to improve their employability.”

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, president of techUK and IoC Co-Chair, said: “The emerging skills gap significantly impacts the health of the UK tech sector and specifically those looking for work.

“This skills gap has materialised faster than expected and the effects are felt sharply by both the sector and by society. Those without tech skills are being left behind, and the digital divide is widening.

“It is now even more important to pivot nationally towards digital. This starts with the accessible and flexible digital skills education that is provided by the Institute of Coding.”

Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage added: “The UK’s tech sector has shown tremendous resilience over the last year and continues to create jobs and opportunities for people up and down the country.

“The government is supporting people to build their digital skills through initiatives such as the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund and The Skills Toolkit. This will help make sure everyone can develop the expertise they need to succeed in our growing digital economy.”

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.