26 June 2018
How do we fix the digital skills gap? I can no longer count the amount of times I have heard this question. Yet, it simply isn’t going away.
I was dismayed this week to hear that the digital skills gap has opened up in schools. A recent report by the University of Roehampton suggests that the computer science qualification designed to replace ICT is too challenging for both young people to study and teachers to teach. Just 12% of students are choosing to take the subject.
This is disastrous!
What’s worse, the report shows that only 20% of GCSE entrants are female. This is this set to see the digital skills gap widening. We’re also going to see the gender gap growing too. On top of this the end of the traditional ICT exam will “disproportionately impact girls, poorer students and some ethnic minority groups”. It’s the absolute opposite of what is needed in an industry. Tech is trying to break down the reputation of being a solely ‘white male’ industry.
The new computer science qualification is exactly what the industry needs so why are so few young people taking the subject up?
I have to wonder if it comes back to the lack of skills within teaching the subject. When you have an inspiring teacher who is passionate about the topic, of course young people are going to be engaged and want to get involved. However, we’re seeing teachers whose tech skills are self-taught. Whose skills simply don’t stretch to the real technical nitty gritty of the new qualification.
How can you inspire young people to take up a topic if you’re nervous of the topic yourself?
We have to start helping our teachers. The incredible people who nurture the next generation and inspire them onto great things. With cuts left, right and centre, increasingly high quotas and expectations, and more challenging teaching environments, we simply have to do whatever we can to take some of that strain.
We’re proud at UKFast to provide hands-on training and qualifications in industry-leading technologies for school teachers. And to support education in more than 50 schools across Greater Manchester, but clearly it’s not enough.
The government is increasingly distracted by Brexit and unfortunately issues like education and the skills gap seem to be falling further by the wayside.
What’s the answer? I don’t have it but I know that we’re continuing to do all we can to support in any way you can. I hope other business leaders will step up to the plate to help too.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s the solution?