IT skills severely lacking

Yesterday’s GCSE results, like this month’s A Level results, revealed that those students studying computing has increased.

This is an encouraging sign for the technology sector, which is facing a digital skills gap.

Data from the Barclays Digital Development Index revealed that the UK scored fourth (out of 10) for the quality of its digital skills teaching in compulsory education, lagging behind Estonia, South Korea and Sweden, because of the significant shortfall in computing teaching workforce with a relevant degree.

The UK also lags at the bottom of the list for the number of computing students in tertiary education, above only Brazil and Sweden.

With the UK coming in seventh out of 10 for vocational and workplace skills, the research highlights a clear need for more to be done in the workplace to help boost digital skills

>See also: The STEM skills gap on the road to closing?

This problem is endemic of a system that needs to change.

The various educational and graduate failings “has an impact on individuals’ abilities to continue building their skills after leaving school and also limits the good work being done in compulsory education,” said Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of Barclays UK.

The number of students achieving an A*-A grade is continuing to fall, and this is concerning.

“These issues must be tackled at grassroots level – which is what makes today’s GCSE results so concerning. UK businesses now have an urgent responsibility to work more closely with education providers, and increase the quality and range of their professional training resources too,” said Mandi Walls, technical practice manager / consulting director at EMEA Chef Software

Businesses have just as much responsibility in helping to reduce the digital skills gap. It is in their best interest, as the lacks of skills will hit them the hardest.

It is evident a change in attitude needs to be adopted, as only 38% of UK workers interviewed for Barclay’s study said their employer offers training in digital skills; this figure is considerably higher in China, the US (48% in both) and India (67%).

>See also: Solving the STEM conundrum: how to bridge the skills shortage

The digital services industry is expansive, from cloud management to data storage. But, which are most affected by the skills gap?

Kirill Slavin, UK & Ireland general manager at Kaspersky Lab suggests cybersecurity growth is in danger. The sector is in great need of “skilled computer science graduates to fill an existing skills gap that is predicted to reach critical levels over the next five to ten years.”

Ultimately, according to Slavin: “If we are to solve this critical supply shortage, and secure the technology upon which our futures depend, we will need to ensure skilled graduates are presented clear and attractive pathways into cybersecurity careers.”

The efforts made at school level should not be let down by inaction at industry level.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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