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FutureDotNow debuts roadmap to guide UK through closing digital skills gap

Industry coalition FutureDotNow has joined forces with several government departments and more than 20 businesses to shape a roadmap it hopes will support the UK in closing the digital divide

Tech industry coalition FutureDotNow is calling on government and businesses to work together to help close the IT skills gap, marking the publication of a roadmap designed to give the UK population’s digital skills a boost.

The roadmap was created in tandem with the Digital Skills Council and outlines the steps that government, business and civil society must take to ensure everyone has the digital skills needed to participate in the world’s increasingly digitised economies.

It features three calls to action, including a demand for greater coordination across government to address the skills gap through the creation of a national strategy o building essential workplace skills, and puts the onus on business leaders to ensure they are offering digital skills training, too.

Furthermore, it also makes the case for collective action to occur that would see government, businesses and civil society work together to close the digital skills divide.

“Building a workforce powered up with essential digital capability is critical to creating a higher-skilled economy and fulfilling national ambitions,” said FutureDotNow, in a statement.  

“Artificial intelligence and automation are going to transform work, but the UK workforce doesn’t have the skills base to respond to disruption or capitalise on opportunities. But too many are being left behind.”

The roadmap’s contents has been shaped by input from several central government departments, including the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Cabinet Office, and more than 20 businesses. The Department for Science Innovation and Technology part-funded the creation of the roadmap, with additional support from tech consultancy giant Deloitte.

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FutureDotNow CEO Liz Williams said that with the world becoming “increasingly driven by digital”, time is of the essence to skill-up the UK workforce.

“Technology is at the heart of realising the UK’s productivity strategy, but we are leaving people behind,” she said. “There are significant essential digital skills gaps across the working population, in every sector, nation and region, and in every age group.

“We can realise the huge benefits of tech, for individuals, businesses and the nation,” said Williams. “But urgent action is needed now, by government and industry. If we boost the digital capability and confidence of the UK’s workforce, we can capitalise on the wealth of opportunities that lay ahead.

“The FutureDotNow roadmap has been developed with expert input from industry and government, and is based on four years of intensive work on this subject. The actions we lay out are crucial to driving the change our workforce and our country needs.”

Meanwhile, FutureDotNow chair Peter Estlin said the productivity and resiliency of the nation are at risk if the digital skills gap is not urgently addressed.

“The gap in basic digital capability in the UK’s workforce is real and huge,” he said. “It presents both risk and opportunity. It’s holding the nation back, affecting productivity and business resilience at a time when the economic outlook is challenging, and the nation is looking for answers. We need to take action now.”

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