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UK digital skills shortage risks economic recovery

With Britain's economy showing tentative signs of recovery could it be blown off course by a digital skills crisis?

Well, that appears to be the conclusion being drawn from a new survey that shows that there has been a sharp fall in the number of young people taking IT courses.

According to the Learning and Work Institute under half of UK employers thought that new entrants to the workforce had the advanced digital skillsets required and, as a consequence, this lack of sufficiently trained recruits was costing the economy billions of pounds.

The LWI has found that there has been a fall in the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE - down 40% over the past five years - with similar falls in those looking to take A Levels, further education courses and apprenticeships.

While a significant majority of young people say that digital skills are essential to their future careers just 22% of GCSE entrants, 17% of A Level, 23% of apprenticeships in ICT, and just 16% of undergraduate starts are in computer science.

Something is obviously going wrong here in the UK and with 60% of businesses saying their reliance on advanced digital skills will only increase, we need to act now to ensure the UK is not left behind.

Neil Tyler

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