Digital Excellence Beckons Investors: High quality digital skills will be ‘absolutely critical’ in the UK’s bid to attract foreign investment and help heal the worst economic ravages of the Covid crisis, we announced today.

A new report from WorldSkills UK, published today which draws on predictions from the OECD that an 11.5% contraction in the economy will see unemployment head towards 10% by the end of the year and that the preservation and propagation of a prodigious skills supply is ‘even more important now than it was in the 1980s’ 

The Eighties saw overseas investment kickstarting the economy in some hard-hit areas such as Sunderland where Nissan opened it car plant, and at a time when computing was included in the school curriculum and recognised as a future skills need. 

WorldSkills UK CEO Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE said: “Attracting inward investment is crucial to strengthen the UK economy.

“Competition for investment will be keener than ever as countries across the world struggle to regenerate economies.  Underpinning this will be a renewed focus on high quality skills and intel shows that the availability of world-class digital skills will be the catalyst to convert interest into job creation.”

WorldSkills UK, renowned for accelerating enhanced skills and training apprentices for the WorldSkills event known as the ‘skills Olympics’, has reconfigured resources and the way it works to cope with the Covid crisis. 

Drawing on its unique insight to international benchmarking and global best practice in skills development, it published a five-point recovery plan to support more than 200,000 young people across the UK, including many from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

WorldSkills UK has digitised methods of coaching and learning and is preparing to launch a Centre of Excellence (in partnership with NCFE), which will mainstream enhanced skills by vertically integrating decades of experience and knowledge into FE colleges across the country to benefit tens of thousands of young people. 

The new report from WorldSkills UK draws upon sector intelligence and the recent EY Attractiveness Survey which underlined the requirement of digital skills to woo international investment. It demonstrates how WorldSkills UK is working with educators, businesses and governments to answer the call for digital skills excellence. 

Dr Bentley-Gockmann went on to say: “Our performance in digital skills has seen the UK rank ninth, over the last three ‘skills Olympics’ and we are actively exploring how to field competitors in even more digital skills competitions to build a world-class digital skills base in the UK. 

“In recent years we have moved into new digital areas, ranging from cyber security and 3D games and more recently to industry 4.0, industrial robots and building information modelling.  

“By investing more in a broader range of digital skills to match international competitors reaching global standards, we will be developing the skills base needed to make the most of the digital investment coming into the UK.”

WorldSkills UK has issued a plea for the industry and education to unite and has called for a national skills summit to galvanise the sector’s relief effort. 

“We will be working with partners across the UK, including some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country.  With current investment patterns heavily skewed to London, this will be a helpful contribution to evening out investment opportunities and levelling up economic prosperity,” said Dr Bentley-Gockmann.

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