he issue of the UK’s digital skills gap is certainly not a novel phenomenon, given the rapid technological advancements across almost every industry in the world. Aside from being an ongoing problem in terms of the existing solutions’ practicality, the digital skills gap results in annual losses within the range of billions for the UK economy.
The accelerated technological developments have certainly improved numerous aspects of our lives. However, when it comes to employability and career development, this has not always been the case. An objective and simple explanation would be that the latter involves the human element. This reflects the necessity of a targeted learning solution that constitutes elements such as a psychological understanding of the people who ought to undertake that digital learning.
Gaining a better understanding of the root cause of the skills gap, not just within the UK, but also on a global scale, demands a thorough evaluation of the pace at which the recent technological advancements have taken place. In a report by Berger & Frey (2016) for the European Commission, the authors propose the interesting theory of “skill-biased technological change (SBTC)” by O’Rourke et al. (2013). The SBTC proposal argues that new technologies are, for the main part, applicable to skilled employees and people. O’Rourke also states that this has resulted in income disparities both internationally, where Western nations have been the key beneficiaries. Respectively, the same pattern has formed domestically within countries.
Moreover, Berger & Frey’s report notes that 35% of jobs in the UK are highly susceptible to automation, with the same figure standing at 54% for the EU.Whilst there have been opposing perspectives to the latter, which do not fall within the scope of this article, our study demonstrates a common factor among the majority: new technologies are more suited to skilled workers. Thus, the primary issue is how to develop those skills within workers who do not possess them?
In the context of the UK, let’s start with the 2021 report from WorldSkills UK, which states that 76% of businesses predict that a shortage in digital skills will impact their revenues. These figures are also historically reflected in a 2016 report by Ecorys UK, stating that 72% of large organisations and 49% of SMEs were suffering from digital skills gaps. Another source, Tech Nation, stated in 2020 that there will be over 100,000 vacant roles every month by summer 2021.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. According to The Learning & Work Institute, the number of pupils taking IT-related GCSE subjects has declined by 40%. This is certainly a concerning figure.
There are several measures that employers, policymakers & educators may adopt to bridge the skills gap; each of these measures has its own efficacy. However, in the context of Potentially, and our EdTech solution, we wish to focus on how the tech skills gap ought to be addressed in higher education.
In fact, the debate surrounding whether university or vocational training is more effective for employability development is not new. For the most part, the key different standpoints revolve around whether educational institutions are doing enough to make young people “digitally literate”.This issue has been discussed in a BBC article, which takes into account the view of a technology CEO based in South Tyneside. He states that schools, colleges and universities ought to do more to increase digital literacy.
Importantly, the CEO states, in the context of higher education, that universities may provide expert and specialist IT-related competencies. Nonetheless, their shortcoming lies in the fact that they are not doing enough to prepare a generation who are sufficiently knowledgeable about the application of technology to real-life business protocols and processes.
How Potentially seeks to bridge the skills gap
In our quest to empower potential, we are determined to be part of the solution to the skills gap issue whilst ending the current “Job-pocalypse”. Our digital experience platform seeks to complement the digital skills that students ought to possess before entering the workforce. Let’s begin with stating that Potentially is creating an employability ecosystem for students and young people.
Our platform initially involves a self-discovery journey using psychometrics and personality assessments. Students then have access to content created by companies, their future potential employers. Companies are also able to demonstrate their product, technology and/or innovation in a manner that improves students’ career development.
Our mission is made possible by creating mutually beneficial stakeholder relationships through our platform, an ecosystem.
If you are an educator, careers advisor, university or enterprise, we would be keen to hear from you. Contact us to book a brief and friendly call about how Potentially can help you develop the next generation of talent.