The next generation of digital specialists will be created through the new Institute of Coding, a consortium of universities including the University of Gloucestershire, and business and industry experts, who are set to receive £20 million to tackle the UK’s digital skills gap.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos, Prime Minister Theresa May outlined how the Institute of Coding will create new degree level courses to equip people of all ages with the digital skills they need.
The consortium is formed of businesses including IBM, Cisco, BT and Microsoft, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and 25 universities and professional bodies such as the British Computer Society and CREST.
The Prime Minister also announced a £10 million investment for retraining courses to help workers adapt to effects of automation and artificial intelligence. The pilot programmes, will be subsidised by the government’s investment, with some courses offered for free.
1. University learners – To boost graduate employability through a new industry standard targeted at degree level qualifications. IoC programmes will incorporate learning which solves real-world business problems and develops business, technical and interpersonal skills in equal measure.
2. The digital workforce - To develop specialist skills training in areas of strategic importance.
3. Digitalising the professions – For professions undergoing digital transformation (e.g. helping learners retrain via new digital training programmes provided through online and face-to-face learning)
4. Widening participation – To boost equality and diversity in technology-related education and careers (e.g. tailored workshops, bootcamps, innovative learning facilities and other outreach activities). In 2017, female programmers and software developers made up just 3.9 per cent of tech and telco professionals in the UK.
5. Knowledge sharing and sustainability – To share outcomes and good practice, ensuring long-term sustainability of the IoC. This will include building up an evidence base of research, analysis and intelligence to anticipate future skills gaps.
Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:
“A world-class pipeline of digital skills are essential to the UK’s ability to shape our future. By working together, universities, employers and industry leaders can help graduates build the right skills, in fields from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to industrial design.
“The Institute of Coding will play a central role in this. Employers will have a tangible input to the curriculum, working hand-in-hand with universities to develop specialist skills in areas where they are needed most. As we have outlined in the Industrial Strategy, this is part of our ambition to embrace technological change and give us a more competitive edge in the future.”
The Prime Minister also spoke about the £10 million investment in free and subsidised training courses to help adults retrain and learn new skills.
Professor Kamal Bechkoum, Head of the School of Business and Computing at the University of Gloucestershire said:
“Coding is fast becoming the most in-demand skill across industry. This is a tremendous opportunity for the University of Gloucestershire to play its part in a project that aims to reframe the education of coding to ensure employers have access to high quality graduates, who are endowed with the skills needed in the digital economy. The University is well placed to play a key role in this initiative, where we already offer a range of successful programmes on cyber security education, and have established strong links to businesses in the sector.”
The award follows a nationwide competition, run by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), to improve the way universities train people for digital careers.
The government’s £20 million investment will be matched by a further £20 million from industry, including in-kind contributions such as training and equipment.