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Standing out from the IT crowd: How do we make Britain a world leader in digital skills?

08 Mar 2016

CaSE and University Alliance organised a roundtable discussion to inform the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and its inquiry into digital skills.

This is an area of growing concern for a number of our member organisations and so this roundtable provided an opportunity for the Committee to hear directly from experts across the digital skills landscape including those involved in school education, informal learning, teacher training, higher education and employers.

The event took place on Wednesday 2 March 2016 and was kindly hosted by Google.  The meeting was chaired by Nicola Blackwood, Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon and Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, and involved representatives from universities, sector bodies and business.

The discussion was divided into three thematic sections – schools, higher education and employers – and questions for consideration under each theme included:

What are schools doing to ensure everyone leaves with the digital skills needed to thrive, and which employers need? Are digital skills being effectively built into the curriculum and do learning resources reflect this? What collaborative work and outreach activity is taking place with universities and employers? Is there enough emphasis on digital skills within teacher training?

What are universities doing to ensure that all students have the skills they need to thrive in the digital economy? What are the reasons for the low employability rates of computer science graduates and how can this be addressed? Are graduates of all disciplines well suited to a career in digital industries? As the world of work becomes increasingly digital, what new skills will all graduates need in the future?

What are the barriers to upskilling the existing workforce, and what is the role of employers, both small and large? In light of widely reported skills gaps and shortages, what are employers not currently getting from the digital skills pipeline? If our goal by 2030 is for Britain to be a leading digital economy with more high-paid, high-skilled jobs, what does our educational and training architecture need to look like?

Read the Digital Skills roundtable summary outlining the main discussion points and recommendations that emerged from the event. This summary has also been shared with the Science and Technology Committee to inform their inquiry.