I was privileged to attend the BCS Digital Skills Network launch at our London offices last week. There were around 70 experts from across industry, the government, charities, and training providers who shared their views and knowledge about building up the tech skills of the nation. It was a very lively and informative day.

The Minister for Skills, Alex Burghart, gave the keynote speech. He said the government was increasingly encouraging people to consider getting the skills and qualifications they needed while working. That could be via the apprenticeship route or studying T-Levels, where work placements make up 20% of the course.  

It's Learning at Work Week, which has a theme of lifelong learning. I'm proud to say BCS, as the professional body for information technology, provides a wide range of IT qualifications for people at all stages of their careers.

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And those skills are used and needed in all sectors. Our mantra at BCS is making IT good for society. Our Director of Policy, Dr Bill Mitchell OBE, told the Network audience how tech skills could be used to address the huge societal issues facing the world, such as climate change, the pandemic and economic uncertainty. 

He explained how governments see data, artificial intelligence, and cyber security as critical to driving responsible innovation to cope with these challenges. But it's not all about tackling the big issues; it's also about acquiring the basic skills too.   

Skills hold the key 

Simon Ashworth from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers told the audience there was a significant hunger for skills with a varied and complex landscape of funding and support.

However, not everyone can access the training they need, and the importance of bridging the digital divide was discussed. It's worrying that many in our society don't benefit from technology because they can't afford the basics, such as a computer, and lack the skills they need. 

Lucy Ireland, Managing Director at BCS Learning and Development, said: "The launch of the Digital Skills Network brought together the people who can shape the digital training of the current and future workforce. We've had excellent feedback from attendees about how the event was a fantastic opportunity to share ideas and think about how we can all work together. We're very excited about continuing the conversation and are looking forward to the regional Digital Skills Network events." 

BCS, as an organisation, is at the heart of boosting digital skills and promoting professionalism at all career stages and across society in general. It's part of our DNA. 

Image: BCS President Mayank Prakash; Skills Minister Alex Burghart; BCS Managing Director L&D Lucy Ireland.

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