Are we equipped for the digital revolution?

The UK’s future prosperity, growth, productivity, exports and ability to attract inward investment all depend on how the nation responds to the challenges of the digital revolution

However, according to Julia Adamson of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT: “Unlike earlier technological revolutions which created opportunities for low, medium and high skilled workers, those without the skills to enter the new economy will be driven into lower-skilled roles that add to the UK’s productivity problems”

And all other developed economies are actively pursuing high-skill, high-value sectors rather than drift into lower-skilled lower-value areas

So what can the government do here?

Adamson suggests some key roles include:

  • Identifying future opportunities for innovation and growth, such as driverless cars and artificial intelligence (despite governments being notoriously bad at this)
  • Creating the conditions in which innovation can flourish by building the right infrastructure and regulatory environment (e.g. by boosting R&D in universities and university/ industry partnerships)
  • Through the education system, ensuring that everyone has the knowledge and skills to participate in the digital economy and come up with new ideas, products and services

Adamson then considers the computing curriculum, claiming it will only succeed if enough teachers have the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence – but she claims over 75% are not suitably qualified, and far too little relevant training is on offer to them

She credits the government with recognising that “a step change in the level of support is needed” and a commitment to upskilling 8,000 existing teachers to become competent in computer science

However, simply training more teachers is not enough – they also need continuing support to implement what they have learned, especially from other skilled classroom professionals – Master Teachers who are themselves supported by university-based centres and the recently announced National Centre for Computing

Adamson concludes: “The potential return in terms of young people’s opportunities and economic growth are enormous”



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