Programs dedicated to developing digital skills can be essential to closing the skills gap over time.
Brett Shanley, Founder and CEO of Knoma, discusses the role digital skills bootcamps can play in boosting the UK tech industry
Buoyed by a period of rapid digital transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s tech sector now has a valuation of over $1 trillion, having celebrated its most successful year in 2021.
Despite this incredible success, it would be wrong to assume that the future prosperity of the industry is assured. At present, many UK businesses face a significant skills gap when it comes to reaching top digital talent, with government data released in January 2022 revealing that almost a fifth of businesses had a vacancy in digital, culture, media and sports (DCMS). Additionally, 14.1% of companies reported a lack of digital literacy among their teams.
As organizations increasingly rely on technology to power their day-to-day operations, the digital skills divide will continue to widen without swift and decisive action to upskill staff. In recognition of this, the government and business leaders have invested huge sums of money in setting up so-called “digital skills boot camps”. These are specifically designed to help meet the demand for digital skills by teaching people how to get the most out of working with technology, and there is growing evidence that they will play a central role in ensuring success. continuity of the British technology sector.
Why Businesses Should Be Careful
The success of digital skills bootcamps to help secure the future of the UK tech industry is highly dependent on the level of business involvement. However, today, too few organizations devote the time needed to develop or reskill staff, research conducted by MPA Group finding that more than a third of companies – 35 percent – only allow workers to spend less than two hours a week on training, research and development.
While there could be a number of reasons for this, MPA Group’s research indicated that “lack of budget” was seen by companies as the biggest barrier for workplaces allowing staff to dedicate time. development time.
Digital skills bootcamps help solve this problem by allowing businesses to take advantage of the state’s significant investment in the initiative, which means organizations gain more affordable access to government-led training. ‘industry.
Additionally, with bootcamps having already been successfully piloted in places like the West Midlands – where around 2,000 adults have been trained in essential tech skills in recent years – companies have the opportunity to hire recent graduates from program that can help pass on what they have learned about their workers. This means that organizations not only have the opportunity to register their employees for a bootcamp, but also to launch their own internal training programs.
By getting involved in digital skills bootcamps, companies can ensure that they stay up to date with all the latest technological advancements and are well equipped to meet the digital challenges ahead.
Open opportunities to individuals
The benefits of digital skills bootcamps aren’t just limited to companies, but also to the people who work for them to upskill or retrain.
For individual workers, access to relevant training could, for example, allow them to gain more responsibility in their current role, or promotion to a higher position with their current employer. Since these tuition fees are often provided to workers in the form of a company program, the burden of paying for personal education is significantly lessened for the individual.
However, it is not just those who are currently employed who will benefit from the proliferation of digital skills bootcamps, but those who are in education but struggle to access relevant learning. Indeed, in November 2021, universities and colleges across the UK appealed for help to equip young people with digital skills, admitting they lacked the resources, knowledge and infrastructure to cope with the shortage of tech talent in the country.
While universities and colleges certainly have a key role to play – and should be given the support they need – digital skills bootcamps are helping to ease the pressure on traditional institutions that currently have to do faced with an overwhelming number of young people seeking digital skills training.
Digital skills training means investing in people
Britain’s tech scene may have performed remarkably well of late, thanks in large part to the great acceleration caused by the pandemic, but its continued prosperity is far from guaranteed.
Businesses should have no illusions that the ever-growing digital skills gap poses a very real and present danger to their longevity in an environment that is becoming increasingly technology-driven. If they’re going to stay at the top of their game in the months and years to come, they need to seriously think about how they can help close the gap.
Digital skills bootcamps may not be the silver bullet to the digital skills gap that the government and some employers might hope they will be, but they certainly play a very important role in solving the problem. However, the success of bootcamps will heavily depend on how much companies intend to invest in them.
While technology may have seemingly limitless potential for organizations, the fact is that it has always been – and always will be – the most important asset that businesses possess. Therefore, companies need to think about how investing in digital skills bootcamps can equip their employees with the knowledge and skills to get the most out of working with technology.
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