Tom Moore, Director at Acronyms

Member Article

40 percent drop in students taking GCSE IT subjects will see a potentially disastrous skills gap hit UK businesses

A report from the Learning and Work Institute has shown that an IT skills gap is threatening the country’s economic recovery. A sharp fall in the number of young people taking IT courses means that over the next few years a skills gap is likely to open up.

The last year has confirmed that IT is not just integral to all businesses, but our everyday lives too. So, issues that the report highlights is not just an issue for IT departments, or even businesses, but for the whole of society.

The Learning and Work Institute found that since 2015 there has been a 40 percent drop in the number of students taking IT subjects at GCSE level. In 2015 there was 147,000 entries in 2015 to just 88,000 in 2020.

The research also polled 1,004 HR decision-makers in the UK and around 60 percent said that they believed reliance on advanced digital skills was going to increase over the next five years. There is an obvious mismatch here, with businesses increasingly looking for digital skills, and a huge drop in the number of qualified potential employees, an inevitable skills gap will open up.

As well as a general skills gap, there is also a disturbing continuing trend of dwindling number of young women taking IT related qualifications. This gender gap is increasingly widening with just 22 percent of GCSE entrants in IT subjects, 17 percent of A-Level entrants, 23 percent of apprenticeship starts in ICT and 16 percent of undergraduate starts in computer science.

“Unless something can be done about this skills gap and more young people are encouraged into IT, there will be serious consequences for the UK,” commended Tom Moore, Director at Acronyms. “We have seen over the past year more businesses and individuals realise just what a crucial role IT plays in almost every aspect of our lives.

“All businesses will have relied more heavily on technology during the pandemic, whether it is ensuring remote teams remain productive, or customers are provided information quickly and accurately. It is no surprise, therefore, that HR departments will be looking out for more digital skills over the next few months. It is also unsurprising, unfortunately, that the sector remains unable to attract as much talent as is needed.

“As older generations leave businesses there will simply not be enough individuals with the right skills able to step in take their place. With companies now beginning to feel the strain of under-staffed IT teams, helping and encouraging young people to develop more advanced digital skills is crucial.

“The UK is already some way behind many other countries in investing in the right areas to ensure skills gaps don’t appear. This now has to be a priority for the Government. If it doesn’t act now, any long-term economic recovery will be hit hard, with companies unable to continue with day-to-day business because of a lack of IT support.

“However, the responsibility does not just lie on the shoulders of the Government. As the impact of an IT skills gap will be felt throughout society, it is up to us all to encourage the younger generations to look to IT as a future career choice. All jobs in the near future will have some form of IT aspect to it, it is crucial as a country, that we have the most IT literate future generations as possible, and as such it is society generally to make sure that this made as easy as possible,” conclude Moore.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Anna Boyce .

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