Earlier this year I blogged about the importance of Digital Literacy, prompted by the House of Commons Select Committee report which was published in February. Predictably, this issue gained very little traction during the recent general election. This is immensely frustrating, as Digital Literacy is likely be the defining issue for the UK economy in the next 10 years.
My original post was based on statistics posted on the fantastic hour of code website, but as this is a Microsoft sponsored site they naturally were US biased. Since then, I have taken advantage of a couple of excellent (and free) CPD opportunities which have provided further evidence of both the threat and the opportunity that the digital skills gap will provide.
There are some dramatic statistics (the first three taken from a Prezi by @katerussell):
- As a share of GDP, Britain has the most largest internet-based economy in the world
- Britain will need 750,000 more digitally skilled workers by 2017
- 25% of firms are reporting a digital skills shortage in recruitment
- The top 10 in demand jobs in 2014 did not exist in 2004 (source – Softcat)
Yet, despite this overwhelming evidence, it is still only English and Maths which are formally assessed at the end of key stage 2. Computing has only been introduced as a discreet subject in the last 18 months and many teachers lack the fundamental skills to teach it. Technology in many skills is woefully out of date and funding is often not available to replace it.
We are therefore facing a unique challenge, which requires a unique response. Digital Literacy must be introduced as a core subject with equivalent weighting to English and Maths – this is the only way that the looming skills shortage can be addressed.
It is important to understand that this is not an either/or situation. Digitally equipped citizens will be more mathematically minded, and will have more opportunities to use their English skills communicating with others digitally.