UK’s ‘digital skills crisis’ could cost economy £63bn

Businesses are expected to need 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017, yet almost six million people don't know how to use the internet

The UK is facing a digital skills crisis that could damage the country’s productivity and competitiveness and cost the economy around £63bn a year, MPs have warned.

In the Select Committee’s report, it was claimed that by next year the UK business community will need an additional 745,000 workers with digital skills, with 90% of jobs requiring such skills to some degree.

Despite this, estimates suggest 12.6 million adults in the UK lack even basic digital skills, such as using social media and making online transactions, while 5.8 million people have never used the internet.

The report, which criticised the government for its slow response to the crisis, also found that 22% of IT equipment in schools is ineffective while just 35% of computer science teachers have a relevant qualification.

Nicole Blackwood, chairwoman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, said: “The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow’s workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need.”

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, echoed Blackwood’s comments:

“For a start, the government should work urgently with the private sector to invest in a comprehensive strategy for digital skills, to scale existing initiatives and identify gaps. Secondly, it must champion digital apprenticeships, increasing both the quantity and quality of schemes available.”

A government spokesperson responded: “This government recognises the crucial role digital skills play in our society and economy. Our digital strategy, to be published shortly, will set out how we will help employers and individuals access the tools they need to power our digital economy.

“This will make sure we are well placed to remain a tech leader in Europe. We will consider the Select Committee’s report and respond in due course.”


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