Tech giant Microsoft has announced that it will be offering a programme to improve digital literacy across the UK and this will include the offer of digital apprenticeships.
What’s The Problem In The UK?
The fast pace of technology has created several digital challenges in the UK such as:
The technology skills gap. Businesses in the UK have, for several years, identified a technology skills shortage to be a big barrier to growth and competitiveness. This skills gap is believed to be costing the economy approximately £63bn a year. A survey by TechUK in 2015, for example, found that 93% of technology firms believe the skills gap has a directly negative impact on their business. O2 research has also shown that the UK must fill 766,000 new digital jobs by 2020, which will require almost 2.3 million additional digital workers.
At the moment, it looks unlikely that the UK has enough people with the appropriate, diverse range of technology skills to fill those roles. The technology skills gap also appears to be particularly pronounced in the public sector, where Microsoft research has shown that only 35% of workers think they have a digitally literate leadership team. There are already initiatives operating in the UK to help bridge the skills gap, such as the not-for-profit #techmums campaign which has partnered with several large corporate firms with the aim of providing technology skills to one million mothers by 2020.
Cloud skills gap. Although there has been a rapid growth and adoption of the cloud and cloud technologies in the business world, and in the public sector, there are not enough people in the UK with the necessary cloud skills and knowledge. Amazon Web Services (AWS) for example, has recently launched a series of skills-boosting initiatives targeted at school children, young adults and ex-military personnel with the goal of expanding the UK’s supply of cloud talent.
What Is Microsoft Offering?
In order to bridge the technology skills gap, and specifically the cloud skills gap in the UK, Microsoft is offering:
- Digital literacy programmes and training. This will be in the form of free online digital literacy training, open to the entire UK population, and training for 30,000 UK public servants in how to deliver digital services to citizens.
- A Cloud Skills Initiative to train 500,000 people in the UK to be cloud technology experts.
- An extra 30,000 digital apprenticeships on its existing apprenticeships programme, with the aim of increasing the number of people learning on-the-job digital skills. Microsoft is reported to have already exceeded its 2012 target of training 4,000 digital apprentices, and in doing so has worked with 25,000 partners across the UK to train 11,000 digital apprentices.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
In order for UK companies to stay competitive, particularly in uncharted post-Brexit waters, technology and especially the cloud skills gaps need to be filled. The training and apprenticeships from Microsoft is therefore good news for UK businesses as they will help to provide them with a UK supply of workers with the right level and diversity of technology skills to move businesses forward, and help UK businesses to reduce the cost of having to recruit workers from overseas.