Bath leads National Institute of Coding to tackle digital skills gap

The £40m initiative will tackle issues surrounding diversity in tech as well as train people in high-demand skills across the UK
31st January 2018

The University of Bath is leading a £40m national Institute of Coding to help fill the UK’s digital skills shortage and attract more people from under-represented groups.

With £20m funding from government and £20m from universities and industry, the Institute will bring together a consortium of more than 60 universities, national and international companies both large and small, industry groups and professional bodies.

“We’ll work with our partners to implement a Widening Participation programme to target under-represented talent”

 

“The strength of the Institute of Coding lies in the fact that it brings together educators, employers and outreach groups to co-develop digital skills education at undergraduate and masters level for learners in universities, at work and in previously under-supported groups across the country,” says Dr Rachid Hourizi (pictured right), Director of the Institute of Coding and a member of the Department of Computer Science who works on human-computer interaction.

“Courses will be made available at undergraduate and masters levels, alongside short courses in areas of strategic importance including data science, artificial intelligence and cyber security,” he adds. “In addition, we’ll work with our partners to implement a Widening Participation programme to target under-represented talent through outreach activities, tailored and inclusive curricula, flexible delivery and removal of barriers to working in the industry.”

High demand

Demand for computer science specialists is increasing drastically. The University points to the latest data that says more than 500,000 people will be needed to fill vacancies in the three highest skilled digital roles by 2022. The challenge is that this is three times the number of Computer Sciences graduates in the last 10 years in the UK.

Within the computing sector, women, people returning to work and people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds are particularly underrepresented. Women currently represent just five percent of computer scientists.

“By working together across industry and academia, the Institute of Coding will unlock access to a bigger and more diverse workforce”

 

“A world-class pipeline of digital skills are essential to the UK’s ability to shape our future. By working together, universities, employers and industry leaders can help graduates build the right skills, in fields from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to industrial design,” says Universities Minister Sam Gyimah.

“The Institute of Coding will play a central role in this. Employers will have a tangible input to the curriculum, working hand-in-hand with universities to develop specialist skills in areas where they are needed most. As we have outlined in the Industrial Strategy, this is part of our ambition to embrace technological change and give us a more competitive edge in the future.”

A digital workforce

Leading communications company BT is also backing the Institute alongside its support for the Barefoot Coding initiative in schools.

“Digital skills are crucial to BT’s current and future success, but no company can fix the UK’s digital skills shortage on its own. By working together across industry and academia, the Institute of Coding will unlock access to a bigger and more diverse workforce, and support skills development for people at different stages of their careers,” says Gavin Patterson, BT Group Chief Executive.

The Institute will also work with outreach and community groups, schools and colleges to encourage a larger number of currently under-represented groups into digital education.

One early focus will be on increasing the number of women choosing to work in the digital sector and on support for those returning to work. This is similar to the work already being done on a voluntary basis by the highly successful Women’s TechHub in the region.

Find out more about the Institute of Coding by visiting https://instituteofcoding.org/. You can also follow them on Twitter here: @IoCoding.