UK in need of 750,000 digitally skilled workers by 2017

A report from O2 suggests the UK economy needs 750,000 new digitally-skilled workers over the next five years

The UK is in need of 750,000 digitally skilled workers by 2017, a report from O2 has revealed.

Unveiled at the Campus Party Europe, this week, the research highlights that more than one-fifth of the jobs needed to support economic growth are ideally suited to the younger digitally savvy generation, despite  youth unemployment stuck at one million.

Ronan Dunne, chief executive at Telefónica UK, said: “Now, more than ever before, digital offers the chance to drive sustained economic recovery, but this will only be realised if we become a nation of digitally confident businesses with a digitally literate workforce. The onus cannot be on the government alone. Businesses must proactively seek out opportunities to collaborate to maximise the digital growth opportunity and harness the potential of the next generation.

“As digital natives, young people possess valuable skills that will be the future fuel of our economy, but not enough is being done to harness them. At O2, we’re committed to playing our part, which is why we are hosting Campus Party, one of the world’s largest tech festivals, to showcase new ways to break into digital careers and give businesses an unconventional hunting ground to find the talent they need to prosper.”

The report also suggests that the government and businesses need to work together to maximise the digital growth opportunity.

According to the report, existing government digital economy initiatives are expected to generate economic output worth £7bn per year by 2017, however it also identifies a number of recommendations to further maximise the opportunity for the UK economy – worth a further £4bn per year.

The research also suggests that more collaboration between the public and private sector could see the creation of an additional 100,000 jobs.

Tristan Wilkinson, deputy director at Go ON UK, said: “This report highlights the scale of the digital opportunity but also the very real cost to our economic recovery if we do not create a workforce that is fit for the future.

“It’s vital that government, industry and the voluntary sector work together to ensure that everyone has basic online skills. Only then will we unlock the huge economic and social benefit that digital presents.”

Martin Gollogly, director university alliances programme at SAP UK and Ireland, said: “The news that Britain will need an additional 750,000 digital workers by 2017 should come as no surprise. The IT skills gap has been widely discussed in the industry but it is time to stop talking and start acting if the UK is to take advantage of this economic opportunity.

“Of course, this starts with education, but it is clear that the government alone cannot tackle this growing issue. Businesses must get involved as well if young people are going to gain the skills needed to fill these job opportunities.”

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