Research carried out by the Learning & Work Institute that we commissioned has highlighted a concerning gap in digital skills provision.
The research shows that 60 percent of businesses believe that their reliance on advanced digital skills is set to increase over the next five years, while 88 percent of young people realise that their digital skills will be essential for their careers.
However, while employer demand for digital skills is set to continue to grow, participation in digital skills training has declined. The number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has fallen by 40% since 2015, with the number taking A Levels, further education courses and apprenticeships all declining.
Further, under half of UK employers (48%) believe that young people are leaving full-time education with sufficient advanced digital skills and 76% of businesses believe that a lack of digital skills would hit their profitability.
Young people and businesses are at one, recognising the growing importance of the digital economy. But assumptions that the current digital skills gap will be closed in the months and years to come are misplaced.
Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, Chief Executive
Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann continued: “As business demand for advanced digital skills is growing, fewer young people are applying to study the subject which could, if allowed to go unchecked, lead to a significant shortfall in provision.
“We need to plug shortages by inspiring more young women as well as young men to understand that digital careers are for them, and we also need to ensure the skills they are developing are of the highest quality to meet employer and economic needs. This is crucial for attracting much-needed foreign inward investment to create jobs across the UK and help the economy grow. Other major global economies are ahead of the UK in valuing high quality digital skills to help drive their competitiveness and productivity, we need to act now to ensure the UK is not left behind.”