IT industry sets out digital priorities for new government

Despite the tech sector employing 1.7 million and contributing more than £90 billion to the economy, said the Tech Partnership, there remain “serious inhibitors to continued growth”. The most significant is the lack of new entrants to the sector possessing the most vitally needed skills.

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IT industry organisation the Tech Partnership has set out its digital priorities for the next government to tackle, including helping to solve the skills crisis. The Tech Partnership is recognised by government as the Industrial Partnership for the information economy.

Despite the tech sector employing 1.7 million and contributing more than £90 billion to the economy, said the Tech Partnership, there remain “serious inhibitors to continued growth”. The most significant, said the organisation, is the lack of new entrants to the sector possessing the most vitally needed skills.

The Tech Partnership estimates that each year around 135,000 new skilled workers are needed to enter the IT industry to help serve its needs and growth. “To help deliver the talented young people to fill those roles, the Tech Partnership has identified five key areas for the next government to focus on, and how employers can support them,” said the organisation.

These are inspiring the next generation about careers in tech. Employers want to build upon the blueprint of programmes such as TechFuture Classroom and work with government to show the possibilities that digital learning brings, the Partnership said.

Secondly, offering more support for teachers. New computing curriculums are “increasingly complex”, and all too often teachers aren’t provided with the opportunities to develop their skills and industry knowledge, said the Partnership. Employers in the Tech Partnership are keen to change that. They believe that offering continuing professional development opportunities within industry, and letting teachers work alongside employers to learn how the skills they are teaching will be put to use in the future, will give teachers the best possible tools to inspire their students.

Thirdly, improve graduate employability. Despite the demand for skilled workers, computing degree graduates have among the highest unemployment rates of any discipline. Again, employers have already set an example of what collaboration between industry, government and academia can achieve, with the ITMB degree programme “delivering continued success”.

More apprenticeships also have to be created. All parties are committed to delivering more apprenticeships over the next parliament. The challenge now, said the Partnership, is to ensure that those apprenticeships are of “universally high quality”. Tech employers have already been working on the industry led trailblazer standards, and are keen to continue to work with government to help guarantee the value of apprenticeships.

Lastly, narrow the gender divide in digital careers. Employers will be launching a major drive this year to begin working towards the target of having women make up 50 percent of new entrants into tech careers, and they are asking government to support that work.

Policy manager for the Tech Partnership, John Cox, said: “For virtually every policy commitment made, tech will be an important component. Tech is increasingly a focus for education and training, our public services rely on digital infrastructure to run, and tech is at the heart of continued economic growth and competitiveness.”

He said: “Success for the next government will be impacted in a very real way by their approach to delivering digital skills, and the next month will be a fascinating indicator of things to come.”

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