Consistency in Government for the sake of our skills

Apr 25, 2017 | Opinion

Last week, the Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election; that’s all well and good, but what does it mean for UK businesses who are facing a massive skills shortage in the coming years?

In February, the Government announced its Government Transformation Strategy; it outlined that by 2020, the public sector will use digital services to transform the relationship between citizen and state. It highlighted how digital transformation can help the government reduce the cost of services, while at the same time improving them.

It was an important move and a demonstration to other sectors which perhaps consider themselves non-digital and are now having to transform to adapt to the modern world; most Government departments have, for decades now, outsourced complex IT to external experts, rarely nurturing the skills internally. The same goes for other sectors; look at retail which has had to rapidly revolutionise, not just adapting to e-commerce, but to emerging concepts such as the removal of POS tills and consumers paying virtually via their smartphones.

The UK, in its bid to create smart cities and fully digitalised industries, will fall behind if the commitment at Government level is diluted in any way.

Whatever manifestos and pledges emerge in these coming weeks, we must remember that the next Government will be the one needed to help UK businesses meet the 2020 target of 745,000 digitally skilled workers – something we aren’t yet on track with as a nation.

We are already behind on plugging the skills gap; just last week, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) released a worrying report that revealed more than 75% of businesses face a digital skills shortage. Having surveyed almost 1,500 UK businesses, the BCC also found that more than half said the skills shortage increases workload on their existing colleagues, while almost a third (28%) said it caused difficulties in meeting customer requirements.

We’ve got to get a grip back on this; organisations like Rethink – especially our Digital Gurus and RTM brands – are working hard to realise the evolution of a digitally skilled workforce for clients. We’re helping them recruit great tech workers and advising them on training and development for the greater good of their businesses, however the real impact’s going to come from greater relationships between businesses and the Government – whoever’s in power on June 8th must realise the cost to businesses if this doesn’t happen.

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