We all have a responsibility to close the skills gap, but what are you going about it? Here, Ramkumar Chandrasekaran, HR Director, UK & Ireland at Tata Consultancy Services shares three steps for business and government collaboration
Looking back on recent industry announcements, one thing that really stands out for me is that the government will invest £153 million into quantum computing technologies. At the same time, global tech companies pledged to invest more than £1 billion in the UK. At first, we may feel a sense of relief at this news. But when you think about it, more needs to be done before we get too overjoyed, as really, this is the necessity and the minimum.
Investment needs to come in more ways than one and funding, no matter how large, is just the start. This is especially true when it comes to national issues such as the digital skills gap.
The good news is that there’s a strong appetite to address the widening skills gap and awareness of the importance of upskilling in IT. In fact, 61% of businesses strongly agree that the government needs to better address digital skills gaps, according to a report from TCS and CBI. In addition to investing financially, 93% of tech firms are acting on their responsibility to address the digital skills gap. The main ways that they are doing this is through hiring more external talent from the UK, partnering with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), suppliers or contractors and by organising short courses, among other things.
Future growth isn’t only dependent on money, it’s is about a longer-term, broader pledge for change. With this in mind, let’s look at how businesses need to work with the government to better enact change in the industry, to help close the skills gap:
Know your vision
Knowing where you want to end up is essential in determining the path you take to get there. Companies that have a clear vision to improve digital skills, whilst knowing their long-term success relies upon it, will better prioritise the bespoke skills needed to make progress.
If guidance is needed to help find that direction, they can do so by paying attention to government reports such as the Tech Competitiveness Study. By seeing what the government is prioritising, businesses can follow suit.
Collaborate as much as you can
Closing the skills gap is too big a job for one government, or one business or one school. It must be a collaborative effort. By pulling in expertise from the supply chain, local SMEs, Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and perhaps even competitors, companies improve their internal digital skills strength and can train up the next generation of talent.
Support the next generation
The next generation is the first digitally native generation. We should be adapting to embrace that fact. While the government is rolling out initiatives such as mandatory coding in primary schools, businesses can build on these foundations and offer more in-depth teaching to pupils through educational outreach. After all, some of the rarest and brightest minds in this field are in business, not academia and we must share that expertise
Despite the concerns about digital skills, businesses and government are clearly on the right trajectory to turn this around. Each party brings different skills, resources and expertise to the table so now is the time to take the steps towards greater collaboration and ultimately give us a reason to celebrate resolving the digital skills gap.
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