The impending digital skills gap is an issue that has to be addressed. To continue making exponential progress within the tech sector, the next generation must be encouraged to be creators and not just consumers.

“The UK’s creative, digital and tech economies have better talent going forward”

 

But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are passionate people working hard to close this gap through initiatives and education.

Getting everyone involved

We spoke to Ash Phillips, the founder and director of Yena, who recognises the desperate need for a curriculum shake-up. He tells us, “I came from a local state school that drastically lacked education in relevant digital skills when I left. This needs to change. The world is digital now.”

The population has potential waiting to be realised – technology is all around us and we are constantly searching for ways to improve it. Ash says, improve education and, “not only will the UK’s creative, digital and tech economies have better talent going forward, it will have a knock-on effect to the wider ecosystem and world.”

“It’s no secret that tech talent is scarce with demand outstripping supply on a national and international scale”

 

With the impending onset of Brexit, it is more crucial than ever to tackle the issue. And so that is what the South West – along with the rest of the UK – is trying to do.

Yena is focussing on giving support to those who attract talent to the region, “We now run 100+ free meetups across the world.

“The community of ambitious, rebellious minds we’re building is our way of connecting people at an earlier stage (in life & business) in order to foster more opportunities and successes than ever before,” says Ash.

Bristol is calling you

A new initiative, Bristol Calling, which aims to attract the UK’s biggest techie brains to settle in Bristol, is also doing its bit to make a better future for Bristolians.

Liz Humphries  Bristol Calling’s project lead tells us: “It’s no secret that tech talent is scarce with demand outstripping supply on a national and international scale.

“Competition to attract talent to our region is fierce, and with 70% of tech companies locally already citing a lack of supply of highly skilled workers it’s time to do something about it to maintain and grow our position as the UK’s leading digital tech cluster.”

All things coding

National schemes such as the Institute of Coding, led by the University of Bath and involving more than 60 universities, are working to fill the UK’s digital skills shortage.

£40 million has been plugged into the program with the ambition to get students work ready. Combining applicable knowledge from SMEs with academia will give participants the specialist skills they need to succeed in the industry.

And, of course, having a diverse workforce that is representative of the UK’s population will play a major part in closing the skills gap – with only 5% of computer scientists being women, this is an issue demanding to be consulted.

Established nationwide businesses such as Tech UK aren’t shying away from responsibility. Events such as their Technical Skills Shortage happening this April in London not only raise the alarm bells for change but act as a catalyst to initiating potential changes to our current system.

Its urgency shouldn’t be underestimated, but with this kind of proactive work, the digital skills gap is an issue that can be resolved.

Thanks to Ash for taking the time to talk to us. You can find out more about Yena, Bristol Calling and the Institute of Coding from their websites. Keep up to date with Bristol Calling’s work by following their Twitter here: @BristolCalling.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.