According to the latest research by the Learning & Work Institute, the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped 40% since 2015.
The think tank warned that the UK is heading towards a “catastrophic” digital skills shortage.
‘Disconnected? Exploring the digital skills gap’, commissioned by WorldSkills UK, shows that 70% of young people expect employers to invest in teaching them digital skills on the job, but only half of the employers surveyed in the study are able to provide that training.
The vast majority of employers require workers to have basic digital skills and an increasing number require more advanced skills too, according to the research.
The report shows that young people and employers agree that digital skills are vital in every sector of the economy but that there is a digital skills gap. There is also a significant gender gap, with young women reporting that they are both less confident and less interested in digital careers compared to young men.
“Businesses are already struggling to find enough talent to close the digital skills gap and students will soon be entering one of the most competitive job markets in recent memory” – Agata Nowakowska, Skillsoft
Agata Nowakowska, area vice president EMEA at Skillsoft – which provides online courses and training – said it is “crucial” schools equip pupils with the digital skills they will need to success in the workplace.
“Unfortunately, today’s figures suggest a more long-term impact on the digital education of young people. Businesses are already struggling to find enough talent to close the digital skills gap and students will soon be entering one of the most competitive job markets in recent memory.
“Given STEM roles are predicted to double by 2028, the UK’s economic future lies in closing this skills gap; its crucial schools are equipping pupils with the skills they will need to be successful in the modern, digital workplace.”
The report outlines different ways WorldSkills UK is committed to improving opportunities for more young people and helping employers be confident about accessing the digital skills they need to succeed. They will, for example, engage more effectively with young people from all backgrounds to demonstrate the “wealth of digital careers opportunities available to them”.