29 September 2020

The Prime Minister’s pledge to guarantee life-long learning opportunities for those without A-Levels, and to increase funding for small and medium-sized enterprises taking on apprentices is a step in the right direction, according to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Lucy Ireland, Managing Director of BCS Learning and Development said: “The need to upskill the workforce in digital skills is paramount if the UK economy is to recover in the wake of the pandemic, which has both accelerated digital transformation and highlighted the growing IT skills gap.”

She added: “In his speech, the Prime Minister acknowledged the shortcomings of our labour market and educational system and the shortage of hundreds of thousands of IT experts. Providing more funding and opportunities for workers to acquire new digital skills will benefit them personally and will help turbo-charge the economy. This is especially relevant for those whose livelihoods are at risk, such as retail and hospitality staff.

“We agree with the Prime Minister that ‘radical change’ is necessary and the opening up of funding opportunities for those over 23 years old to study vocational courses will support that change. We welcome the emphasis on the need to focus on skills valued by employers and to retrain for jobs for the future.”

The government is committing £8 million for digital skills boot camps, expanding pilots in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands and introducing programmes in four new locations, along with guaranteeing the funding of technical courses for adults that are the equivalent of A-levels.

Boris Johnson also announced the expansion of apprenticeships so that he said: “unspent funds can be used more easily to support apprenticeships not just in big companies, but in the SMEs where there is so much potential for job creation.”

Annette Allmark, Head of Apprenticeships at BCS said: “Digital apprenticeships that cover critical workplace skills are fundamental to improving productivity and economic recovery. At the same time, they allow individuals to achieve a nationally recognised qualification. This latest announcement can only help bolster the progress made by the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.”

BCS, as the professional body for the digital industries, has training at its core. It has delivered over 700,000 professional certificates over the last ten years. Over 3 million adults have taken its digital literacy qualifications, along with half a million schoolchildren. Over 21,000 digital apprentices are registered with BCS and 8,500 End Point Assessments in digital apprenticeship standards have been completed.

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