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Future of Work 2021

Rethinking digital skills training – a post-pandemic plan

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Jacqueline de Rojas

President, techUK

Research from Nesta indicates that, as a result of technological progress and changing demographics, more than six million people in the UK are currently employed in occupations that are likely to change radically or disappear entirely by 2030.

Those sectors which are most vulnerable to these shifts also show overlap with those hit hardest by the pandemic, with 61% of those furloughed in the first half of 2020 being in sectors at high risk of future automation.

It is vital that UK citizens across our nations and regions have the skills to seize the new wave of automation. There is a clear opportunity: if we coordinate and enhance the provision of training, we can make the most of what comes next.

Work together to expand short modular digital skills courses

Government and businesses need to enable people with digital skills. Efforts should be made to use this rupture to direct, support and incentivise the newly unemployed into secure, resilient jobs. While some jobs will require degree level training, many technical digital skills can be acquired through other means.

The Fast Forward for Digital Jobs Taskforce, made up of tech industry leaders,1 was created in response to this necessity and explores how digital training and qualifications can be accessed by a wide base of potential employees. Through the pandemic we have seen a massive increase in people recognising the importance of digital skills in the future labour market and signalling their interest in acquiring these skills through short online courses. The resulting report of the Taskforce outlines seven recommendations to support both learners and businesses to invest in digital skills.

Through the pandemic we have seen a massive increase in people recognising the importance of digital skills in the future labour market.

Building for what comes next

By supporting businesses, big and small, and employees in their re-skilling journey, maximising their confidence in the value of digital skills and through targeted investment, we will not only plot a quicker path to recovery but will also build a future that is more inclusive and productive.

We need to open up new flexible pathways to rethink the re-skilling challenge that many workers and businesses face and how we keep them employed in productive, fulfilling jobs that enable them to thrive in the post-pandemic economy.

To get involved in the work of the Fast Forward for Digital Jobs Taskforce, visit: techUK.org

[1] Jacqueline de Rojas CBE – techUK, President, Chair of the techUK Fast Forward for Digital Jobs Taskforce; Wendy James – BT, Leadership, Learning, Talent and Diversity Director; Adam Spearing – Salesforce, EMEA Field CTO & SVP Solution Consulting UK; Ronan Harris – Google, Vice President and Managing Director UK & Ireland; David Meads – Cisco, Chief Executive UK & Ireland; Clare Barclay – Microsoft, Chief Executive Officer UK; Darren Hardman – AWS, General Manager UK & Ireland; Ian Brown –  UKFast, Chief Executive Officer; Sheila Flavell CBE – FDM, Chief Operating Officer.

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