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When the Chancellor Philip Hammond stood up to deliver his Budget he gave quite a bit of time to cover the need to improve digital skills to make sure the UK remains competitive.
The decision to put funding into areas like broadband and AI was welcomed by the industry but the plans to increase the number of computer science teachers got a more lukewarm response, with some observers urging more focus to be placed on developing skills outside of the classroom.
“The investment in education around maths and computer science puts the UK on the right track to close the chronic STEM skills gap. As uncertainty around Brexit continues, the government must not only create an environment where companies can prosper, but where advanced technology is harnessed by the UK workforce and public sector to increase productivity and the effectiveness of citizen services," said Fiona Harris, senior HR director at CA Technologies.
The role that businesses can play improving the digital skills in the workforce has been underlined by research from managed services player Claranet.
The firm found that few organisations have the digital skills they need to help them take their businesses in the direction they want, using more technology to improve efficiences and productivity.
Top at the list of areas where the current workforce doesn't have the skills is in security. The UK lags behind other European counterparts in terms of viewing digital skills as a major problem and Claranet has come up with some advice for those keen to try to solve the problem.
The channel has a fundamental role to play helping firms deal with the challenges and customers will need to work out where they should tackle things in-house and where a third party can deal with the issue.
“With security being such a pressing concern, UK businesses have to act quickly before the skills deficit grows further. An important part of this lies in upskilling staff across the organisation to make them more comfortable with the adoption of digital technologies and what it takes to secure critical data and infrastructure. With Brexit on the horizon and the accompanying uncertainties around the future supply of skilled employees from other European countries, this is especially important," said Michel Robert, managing director at Claranet UK.
"It’s also crucial to realise that success in this area cannot rely purely on making internal changes. Innovation is central to making digital improvement a success, so IT departments and the wider business need to have time freed up to enable them to focus on what their company does best. By partnering with external service providers, organisations can remove the burden of operational IT tasks and responsibilities and make innovation the core emphasis within the business," he added.