Universities call for support in tackling digital skills gap

There has been widespread talk over the digital skills gap which exists in the UK. In a bid to tackle and close the digital skills gap, experts have been called on to supply free-to-use digital devices and internet access to those in need; and increase funding for support programmes to get people online. 

Educational institutions such as universities are doing their part to equip young people with relevant digital skills. Despite their dedicated efforts, universities are appealing for more help; lacking the knowledge, infrastructure and resources to tackle the UK talent shortage. 

Digital skills have become a necessity in the workplace, as new solutions and innovations are discovered. There is a demand for talent who possess the necessary digital skills to be successful in the workplace; however, students do not feel they are prepared for a digital future. A report from Microsoft and LinkedIn – DEGREE + DIGITAL, highlighted the following issues: 

  • 68% of students don't understand what skills are needed to start their career
  • 50% of students don't know how to search for a specific job 
  • Nearly 80% of employers believe graduates do not arrive fully equipped with the skills they need to be work ready 
  • Just 28% of UK business leaders believe the education system offers adequate digital training 

The report also highlighted the efforts from university and college leaders to seek support in preparing students for a digital workplace. The skills which are being quickly required include being able to confidently use documents, presentations and spreadsheets; whilst having a working knowledge of data and AI. 

A Deputy Vice-Chancellor explained: “The university trying to develop students’ digital capabilities alone is not going to work; we are not going to be adept. Whereas the likes of Microsoft and other technology companies would be. For me, that is clear. I need to offer digital capabilities to our students and to our employees, but I need help to do it.”

Alex Warner, Principal at Milton Keynes College, said: “Digital is not going anywhere. It is only going to grow. Irrespective of what discipline that you go into, you are going to need to learn to work with digital technologies. Is every nurse going to have to be a data scientist? Absolutely not. Is a nurse going to have to be able to read the warning signs, because actually the data that is informing their ward is saying that patient X is going to need more care than patient Y today? Yes.”