To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will make an assessment of the implications for her policies of the findings of the recent Harvey Nash Group's Hot Skills & Salary Report, in respect of its findings on (a) what types of digital skills are needed the most by businesses and (b) how the UK compares with other nations on tech skills' gaps; and what plans the Government has to (i) encourage people to take-up digital skills training and (ii) support providers of digital skills training.
The high level of demand for cyber security skills identified in the Harvey Nash report is consistent with findings of the annual DCMS-commissioned surveys of the labour market. Some of the skills clusters identified through DCMS research, using Burning Glass data (2019), were: productivity software, software and programming and data science.
The government has introduced various qualifications such as digital T levels in digital production, design and development; digital apprenticeships which provide work based training in technical occupations; and digital bootcamps as a way for people to take up digital skills training. The government is also offering 33 Level 3 digital skills courses from May 2021 to adults aged 19-24. As well as this, HMG is supporting young people to take up digital skills training. For example, people aged between 11-18 can sign up to CyberFirst extracurricular activities to build understanding of digital and technical skills.
Government supports the development of regional digital skills capability through its Local Digital Skills Partnerships. These partnerships are now operating in seven regions and bring together local cross-sector partners to design, develop and coordinate the delivery of digital skills programmes to upskill the current workforce, tackle digital exclusion and raise awareness of the importance of digital skills regionally. An 8th Local Digital Skills Partnership in Hull and East Yorkshire will formally launch in early December 2021.
The government recently published its first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy, setting out how we can ensure everyone in every region of the UK has the skills, understanding and opportunities to benefit from AI technologies. This will include: continuing to support future skills through Turing Fellowships, Centres for Doctoral Training and Postgraduate Industrial Masters and AI and Data Science Conversion Courses; publishing research into what skills are needed to enable employees to use AI in a business setting; and identify how national skills provision can meet those needs.
The National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), with £84m of government funding, is also aiming to improve the teaching of the computing curriculum in schools. The National AI Strategy will also support the NCCE to ensure programmes for children in AI are accessible.