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Digital skills 'as important as English and maths'

18/02/2015 Joanna
Digital skills should be accorded the same importance as English and maths in the school curriculum, a House of Lords report says.

The study warns that 35 per cent of jobs in the UK are likely to be automated over the next 20 years and workers are at risk of falling behind unless they are equipped with the necessary skills for the new economy.

Around 9.5 million people currently lack adequate digital skills, partly as a result of their education, the report claims. 

Technology companies are able to locate anywhere in the world and the UK is at a "make or break" point. If the country fails to address the skills gap, it is at risk of becoming a "branch economy", with lower levels of prosperity and influence.

Urgent action is needed to support those in teaching jobs and ensure they have the confidence and training necessary to deliver the new computing curriculum.

Initial teacher training and continuing professional development are the areas that provide the biggest opportunities to improve educators' abilities, the committee claims.

Industry also has a role to play in boosting skill levels, the report states, by offering more and better quality apprenticeships. A "cultural shift" is required in attitudes to cyber security, to ensure there are enough people available to meet the demand for skilled employees.

In addition, the report raises concerns about the lack of women in the sector, pointing out that they are not choosing digital and science and technology career paths or subjects at school. 

The committee stated that the internet should be viewed as a utility that is available to all and it is unacceptable that there are still areas with no broadband infrastructure.

Chairman of the Digital Skills Committee Baroness Morgan said: "This report is a wake-up call to whoever forms the next Government in May. Digital is everywhere, with digital skills now seen as vital life skills. It's obvious, however, that we're not learning the right skills to meet our future needs."

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801775931-ADNFCR
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