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UK's digital skill gap tackled by Institute of Coding's courses
Thu, 15th Feb 2024

Recent research conducted by the Institute of Coding (IoC) has revealed pertinent concerns about the UK’s place on the global tech stage, with only half of the population expressing confidence in their digital skills. Misconceptions about the technology industry and perceived barriers to the development of tech capabilities were also highlighted in this in-depth appraisal of the country's digital skills landscape.

The primary deterrents cited from individuals improving their digital skills were cost and time. The findings suggested that 40% of respondents saw courses and training as overly expensive and 30% believed improving their skills would take an excessive amount of time.

Despite these concerns, the IoC provides a solution through thousands of free digital short courses, enabling participants to enhance their digital skills at no cost. The IoC, a collaborative consortium lead by the University of Bath, was developed to address the country's digital skills gap. The consortium provides free short courses to those from hard-to-reach backgrounds, covering areas such as data marketing, cyber security, and data programming. Many of these courses can be completed in as little as four hours, offering flexibility to accommodate learners from all walks of life.

The research further identified potential demographic representation issues, with only one in five (21%) believing that the tech industry fully represents the UK. However, the IoC is committed to making digital careers accessible to all, regardless of background, through its spread of learning opportunities.

Gender representation in the tech industry was also spotlighted in the survey. A meagre 14% of those surveyed could name a female tech leader, suggesting a visible lack of role models for women. To combat this, the IoC provides courses specifically geared towards women such as "Click Start by TechUPWomen in IT Skills 2024", offered by Durham University. This multi-award winning programme is aimed at women from underrepresented groups, offering retraining for tech careers.

The study also revealed common misconceptions about education requirements for digital careers, with 28% of people believing that a university degree is essential. However, the IoC contradicts this belief with its variety of courses offering the necessary skills for a digital-led career.

Despite prevalent misconceptions, the research also illustrated an appetite for digital careers. A total of 26% of respondents expressed regret for not choosing a digital career, while 57% of 18 to 24-year-olds saw opportunities in the tech sector. Additionally, 16% of respondents are considering career switches this year, with an estimated 870,000 vacancies in the tech sector available.

Professor Rachid Hourizi MBE, Director of the Institute of Coding, emphasised the importance of overcoming obstacles such as cost and time and highlighted the efforts of the IoC in maximising opportunities. Julian David, CEO of techUK, also urged the industry to bridge the skills gap by investing in people and fostering a collaborative culture amongst educators, industry, and employers.