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Lack of collaboration hinders the solving of the digital skills gap

A new report points that education, the industry and the government often lack collaboration which is needed to tackle the digital skills gap. The report is by Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and looks at the digital skills gap in the United Kingdom.

In short, the document points out that schools and universities’ outputs often mismatch the local skills demand of the companies. This means that the governments and institutions, which should provide the connection between the business and schools are also failing in their task.

The two organizations advise local partnerships and networks, including local enterprise partnerships, councils, further education colleges, universities and employers, to work together to determine the skill needs for their local area. This will lead to better matched education and training provision to local demand. Governments must encourage these partnerships to share best practice and knowledge of successful programs and training schemes, the authors add.

Currently, things are not looking all that good. The report says 20% of adults don’t have any basic digital skills. 73% of those people don’t even have access to the internet and this is a trend that has been staying flat over the past two years.

This means nothing is done to provide web access to more people, let alone teach them basic digital skills. It should come as a blow to the politicians since the UK government in this case has several programs and initiatives to expand broadband coverage and bridge the skills gap. The report says the measures in place are not effective enough.

The risk is that not only the current companies can’t keep with competition, the UK as a whole may become less attractive for investments. “There is a need for action to be taken to re-skill the workforce continuously to ensure new market segments that require digital skills can be exploited”, the report says. It also warns that it is important not to assume young people have all digital skills needed. Recruiters, part of the survey for the report, say 10% of people under lack any digital skills.

“Companies are looking to bridge that gap by providing trainings. This shows the need for dramatic changes in education which should finally step into the new millennium and stop living in the past. It is the only way to provide people with knowledge and skills they actually need and can use in their everyday life and work”, said Teodor Panayotov, CEO of Coursedot – a global IT training marketplace. Since institutions are still lacking this mindset, businesses are turning to the so-called edtech companies like Coursedot to help them tackle these challenges. After all a company is only as good as it employees.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Daniel X. O’Neil