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TechUK warns UK ‘not doing enough’ to grow digital skills

Gov must adopt smarter migration policy and increase number of girls in tech, says body

Skills gap

The UK must do more to close the digital skills gap and fill the potential of the technology sector, according to trade industry body techUK.

The organisation, which represents 850 British technology companies, has made 11 recommendations to Prime Minister David Cameron's government to solve the impending crisis, which could see grow to 750,000 tech vacancies by 2017, according to a recent prediction by O2.

Charlotte Holloway, head of policy at techUK, said: "Digital technologies will be at the heart of growth and jobs creation in the next five years. To realise the potential of tech in the UK we must work together with government to overcome the skills gap, which threatens to stunt growth in the tech industry and beyond.

"With recent estimates suggesting the UK is already losing a potential 2 billion per year from unfilled roles requiring digital skills, the scale of the gap over the next decade cannot be underestimated. We must accelerate efforts to secure the UK's position as a world leading digital economy."

Computer science graduates in the UK have the highest unemployment rate for graduates across all subjects, techUK's report, titled We're Just Not Doing Enough, reveals, and only one third of ICT teachers have the relevant qualifications.

The body wants Whitehall to inspire girls to pursue technology by demystifying the topic, create more apprenticeships, ensure the entirety of the UK has access to skill-boosting schemes and adopt a 'smart' migration policy.

"At present, skills initiatives risk fragmentation, resulting in gaps and overlap," Holloway added. "By mapping the likely impact [of] digital skills initiatives, we can look seriously at what works' for industry needs in a world-leading digital economy.

"Government and wider players can then use those insights to demonstrate where more may still need to be done, whether that be to boost the computing curriculum or where a smart immigration' approach is needed to address the most pronounced shortages."

An overwhelming 93 per cent of technology businesses believe the digital skills gap has hurt them, techUK warned in a separate, recent report, with key vacancies including Big Data analysts, developers and cyber security specialists.

A report from CompTIA in May had a similar message, with many companies claiming that staff productivity is suffering because of the skills gap, and this is harming innovation.

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