11 May 2021

Government plans, outlined in today's Queen's Speech, to introduce a Lifetime Skills Guarantee, is a significant step in the right direction to address the digital skills gap, says the professional body for the IT industries.

Annette Allmark, Head of Apprenticeships at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: ‘These plans will provide more people with access to the training in digital skills they need to progress in fulfilling careers - and develop the skills the economy needs to flourish and ‘build back better’ after the pandemic.

‘Hopefully, this funding will also increase the diversity of people learning digital skills now and in the future. It’s important that the government continues to build on the many excellent training opportunities already available, such as the wide range of the popular digital apprenticeships.’

BCS has long campaigned for the comprehensive and wide-ranging provision of digital education and training to address the skills gap. Currently, almost 70 per cent of employers are struggling to find workers with the right skills, which is costing British industry billions.

Annette added: ‘There’s never been such a significant demand for digital skills - not just for an increasing number of digital occupations, but across all occupations as a result of businesses having to digitally transform during COVID. For instance, staff in hospitality and shops now regularly use technology to continue to provide their services.

‘In other areas, there are significant shortages of skilled people in vital sectors such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, and software development. In addition, the digital transformation in the NHS has accelerated during the pandemic with technology being widely used across the service.’

In her speech, the Queen said her ministers will bring forward legislation to allow the NHS to ‘innovate and embrace technology’.

BCS is also part of the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) consortium, which provides thousands of school and college teachers with training to deliver a comprehensive computer science education in the classroom.

Julia Adamson, Director of Education at BCS, said: ‘We welcome the move to increase opportunities for people of all ages to enhance their digital skills and employment choices. This will expand on the work of the NCCE across schools and colleges to deliver world class computing education and the skills we need for our workforces in the future.’

The Apprenticeship and Skills Minister, Gillian Keegan, will be joining BCS on a panel to discuss the government’s plans for digital skills on 2 June 2021 and you can sign up for the webinar here.

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