- What skills do future workers need in order for the UK to be globally competitive?
- How are we teaching learners in a way that inspires and prepares them for careers in the future workforce in occupations that may not yet exist?
These are just two of the questions posed by the Digital Skills Committee of the House of Lords, whose Chair, Baroness Morgan of Huyton, stated:
“I believe it’s going to be crucial for the UK to create a workforce that is skilled enough to stay ahead globally, particularly in terms of digital skills. I hope that this inquiry will shine a light on whether or not the UK sits at the top of the class or whether it must try harder.”
We live in an era of unprecedented technological change. Use of technology and the internet pervades every aspect of our lives. It governs how we access information and public services, interact with government and with each other, how we learn, and how and where we work. Every business functions in a digital world, where employees need digital skills ranging from generic digital workplace capabilities, to the ability to use digital tools for specific jobs.
Digital Skills for Tomorrow’s World, from the UK Digital Skills Taskforce, identifies three tiers of digital skills required to participate in society and to find, and remain in, work.
1. A Digital Citizen needs basic online skills to communicate, find information or purchase goods/services online.
2. A Digital Worker uses digital technology as part of their working lives e.g. using social media for marketing.
3. A Digital Maker builds digital technology and makes advanced digital content e.g. coding.
According to the UK forum on Computing Education, more than one-in-three (37%) of UK jobs require employees to be Digital Citizens; nearly half (46%) of jobs need Digital Workers; and 10% of jobs depend on Digital Makers. Only 7% of current jobs in the UK do not require any digital skills.
The shortfall of young people entering the labour market means that we are all going to have to work longer. So it’s crucial that we address the digital skills needs of the whole workforce, including older workers, the unemployed and those in low level jobs wishing to progress.
Our Skills for Prosperity manifesto highlights the need for lifelong learning if people are to remain productive throughout their working lives. Nowhere is that need greater than in digital skills. People of all ages need opportunities to develop and refresh their digital skills and progress from digital citizen to digital learner to digital worker or digital maker.
While there are many existing learning opportunities, digital skills at all levels must not exist in a silo, but must be embedded within every area of learning. The FELTAG report showed that the FE and Skills workforce needs to develop its capability and capacity to use technology for learning, teaching and assessment. Is the sector equally prepared to develop the digital skills of its learners? Providers, leaders and practitioners need to consider how they can prepare their learners for the future. How can different parts of the sector work together more effectively to make this happen?
The Lords Digital Skills Committee will report to the House with recommendations in late January 2015. This is a unique opportunity to make your voice heard. NIACE encourages members, partners, individuals and organisations to respond to the call for evidence by 5 September 2014.