Scotland performing better as digital skills gap threatens UK growth, says BIMA

Regional divides in the education system, a lack of awareness of the opportunities available and a misaligned curriculum, continue to leave students unprepared to engage with the UK’s booming digital economy, which is growing 2.6 times faster than other industries, says BIMA.

The UK’s digital trade body made the announcement ahead of the sixth annual BIMA Digital Day on 13 November, which connects digital and tech companies with schools around the country for a day of hands-on activities.

BIMA has found less than 30% of young people in the South West and North East of England are likely to say they know how to code. Just 21.8% of those in the South West and 28.6% in the North East say they learn coding in school.

More positive results can be found in Scotland, Greater London and the East of England, where between 60-65% of students say they know how to code.

Before participating in BIMA Digital Day, only 41.5% of survey participants said they had any knowledge of the digital industry. Afterwards that response increased to 97.7%, of which, 72.6% said they’d be looking into learning digital skills after participating in Digital Day. 76% of all participants said they would consider a career in digital as a result of BIMA Digital Day.

A majority of teachers (70%) believe there is not enough focus on digital skills and learning. More than 30% of students said they would change or would have chosen their subjects differently as a result of understanding more about a career in digital.

The findings are the result of a survey conducted by BIMA of 2000 students and teachers who participated in BIMA Digital Day 2017.

Natalie Gross, BIMA’s  co-president, Natalie Gross, BIMA’s co-president, said: “Young people continue to miss out on opportunities to have progressive, lucrative careers in the digital and technology sector, the fastest growing industry in Britain.

“This is because of an inadequate curriculum and a lack of awareness for the opportunities that are available. This lack of skills and lack of awareness is a lethal combination that will serve to stifle the growth of the British economy, at a time when we most need growth and confidence.

“We can change this trajectory. BIMA Digital Day is just one brilliant example of how a real difference can be made. We are calling for a comprehensive review of the curriculum. We need to develop a definitive view of how it can allow Britain to thrive digitally – a view that is shared and championed by industry, government and educators.”

“BIMA is also calling for a Government-backed national communications campaign to educate and inspire – we need a powerful and omnipresent message that clearly lays out the opportunity for young Britons.”

Digital Day is a flagship initiative being driven through the BIMA Young Talent Council to increase the interaction between digital sector businesses, schools, teachers and career advisers, students and their parents.

Amanda Follit, chair of BIMA’s Young Talent Council added: “BIMA research shows that students’ engagement with employers and industries is one of the most important factors for increasing future employability. Digital Day is a crucial way for industry to support educators and help students and their parents understand how they can increase their digital skills.”