UK still facing a digital skills crisis

The UK's Science and Technology Committee has published yet another report stating the country needs to get its digital skills act together.

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In March 2016 the UK’s government stated that its Digital Strategy had been written.  However, it still hasn’t been made public and the UK’s Science and Technology Committee latest report paints a picture of a government without a real strategy and without a clue.

Key findings

  • 23% of the UK population (12.6 million people) lack basic digital skills
  • 4.5 million of those are in work already and could be up-skilled by employers
  • 1.2 million small businesses sin the UK lack basic digital skills
  • 22% of IT equipment in schools is ineffective
  • Only 35% of computer science teachers have a relevant qualification
  • 30% of computer science teaching jobs remain unfilled
  • 90% of all new jobs require at least basic levels of digital skills

Expert witnesses at the Committee recognise that the government has undertaken some important initiatives but that these are too fragmented and that no single strategy is driving activity.  A key problem is that the responsibility for ‘digital’ sits across three separate government departments.  The Committee states:

"Given the significance of the digital agenda for UK plc and to ensure that the Strategy has sufficient weight in Government, and its cross-departmental elements are appropriately joined up, we recommend that the Digital Economy Minister attend Cabinet and a Minister in each relevant department be identified as responsible for delivery of the Government’s digital agenda."

It seems perfectly obvious that public libraries could be part of any government strategy in helping to improve digital skills in the UK - particulary amongst those who are not in employment or education.

The full report is available to read here.  It's ironic - but not unexpected - that the government website does not provide any 'sharing' links to social media to encourage debate and awareness.