New qualifications address demand for digital skills

New Government and industry-backed digital qualifications aim to provide the skills for a wide range of digital jobs in the UK, helping to fill the projected one million vacancies in the digital sector during the next decade.

The Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey is expected to announce today that degree apprenticeships will allow young people to complete a full honours degree alongside their employment, while paying no student fees and earning a wage throughout.

Marking the first degree apprenticeships to be launched in the digital sector, the qualifications are expected to suit people embarking on careers ranging from business analysis to software development and technology consultancy. The new programme includes a fully-integrated degree, testing both academic learning and on-the-job practical training, and has been co-created by leading tech employers and universities.

The Minister is also expected to announce details of new industry-designed short courses. Hoped to enhance digital skills across the workforce, these short courses will provide intensive training with content that keeps pace with employers’ immediate needs and changing technologies, and will be delivered flexibly to suit learners’ needs. The new industry-accredited standard aim to give UK’s small businesses the confidence to know that they can hire digital professionals with the skills they need.

Vaizey commented: “These new digital qualifications are the latest example of Government working in partnership with academia and industry to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills which employers need now and in the future.

“We have already put coding into the school curriculum and our rollout of superfast broadband, backed by over £1 billion Government investment in our digital infrastructure, has now passed more than 1.5 million homes and businesses, and is reaching 40,000 more each week.”

A number of employers involved in the Tech Partnership, a group of firms working together to create the skills and jobs the digital industry needs, has already committed to offering degree apprenticeships; including Accenture; BT; Capgemini; CGI, Ford; Fujitsu; GlaxoSmithKline; HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC); Hewlett Packard; IBM; John Lewis; Lloyds Banking Group; Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services.

Universities including Aston; Exeter; Greenwich; Loughborough; Manchester Metropolitan; University College London; University West England and Winchester will also be supporting the courses and are working with employers to offer these degrees.

Tech Partnership board member and Capgemini UK chairman, Christine Hodgson, noted: “The Government’s support for this new route into employment will enable young people to build the academic and practical skills needed for success in the tech sector and will help create the talent needed to boost the digital economy.”

The short courses are backed by organisations the likes of Accenture; ARM; BT; Cisco; Fujitsu; Google; IBM; Oracle; Tata Consultancy Services; Telefonica (O2); BBC; Jaguar Land Rover; National Grid; Network Rail and Royal Mail.

Vaizey is expected to announce the new degree apprenticeships and short industry-designed courses to an audience of digital business leaders at the Tech Partnership launch event at IBM this evening.