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Digital skills statistics

The Government has reported that the digital skills gap is estimated to cost the UK economy £63 billion per year.

Lloyds Bank are commissioned by the Department for Education to run an annual Consumer Digital Index, and this was last published in 2023. This found that 7.5 million people, or 18% of UK adults, lacked the essential digital skills that are needed for the workplace.

The UK Government published a May 2021 report Quantifying the UK Data Skills Gap – Full report. This found that 46% of businesses have struggled to recruit for roles requiring hard data skills, that the supply of graduates with specialist data skills from universities is limited and that half of all workers surveyed had not received any data skills training in the previous two years.

Skills Strategies and the Digital Skills Council

The June 2022 Digital Skills Strategy included a focus on skills provision for the digital economy, and included measures that look to improve digital education in schools, increase awareness of pathways into digital occupations, support people to develop advanced and lifelong digital skills.

The Government launched the Digital Skills Council in June 2022 with the aim of bringing together government and industry to address current and future skills challenges.

The Government published the National AI Strategy in September 2021 which set out a 10 year vision that businesses will have access to the people, knowledge and infrastructure that they will need “ahead of the transformational change AI will bring”.

Government initiatives to improve digital skills

Section 1.2 of the debate pack looks at the initiatives that the Government has put in place to support people into digital careers.

From September 2014, maintained schools in England were required to teach a revised national curriculum. Revised computer science replaced Information and Communications Technology (ICT), which was the previous national curriculum subject. Unlike ICT, the revised computing curriculum teaches foundational skills such as computational thinking and programming.

Computing is a mandatory subject in the national curriculum until the end of key stage four – that is, throughout compulsory schooling. However, there’s no requirement to sit exams in this subject at 16.

Despite various incentive payments being available to support secondary teachers who want to teach computing, a May 2022 Ofsted report on computing concluded there were few specialist staff, and there was a “lack of new teachers to improve the situation”. 

Initiatives to support young people and adults to improve their digital skills include T levels, Higher Technical Qualifications, apprenticeships and Skills Bootcamps.

The Statutory digital entitlement provides free study for adults with low digital skills, while eligible adults are able to access fully-funded level 3 digital courses

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