Digital skills gap costing the UK billions

The UK economy will lose billions of pounds if the digital skills gap is not urgently addressed. Those are the findings of new research into the UK’s digital industry, done by the BIMA (the British Interactive Media Association).

The total turnover of the 117 companies which completed the BIMA survey was £1.36 billion but an astonishing 95 per cent of these reported that their growth was being held back by a shortage of available talent in the recruitment market. This will result in a lost revenue opportunity across the BIMA membership alone (281 companies) of nearly £445 million in the next two years.

Other key findings revealed that 75 per cent said finding the right people is the biggest challenge facing their business. Roles most difficult to fill are those where candidates require coding skills (73 per cent); analytical skills (37 per cent); sales skills (31 per cent) and visual arts skills (31 per cent).

The idea of time-limited ‘Digital GCSE’ to help young people develop much needed skills is supported by 93% of respondents. This would be an interim solution until 'digital' is fully embedded across the curriculum and would cover topics such as digital copy-writing, SEO and coding.

The results of the new research survey are announced to coincide with BIMA’s Digital Day 2015 which takes place today. As part of this nationwide initiative some of the UK’s leading digital industry professionals are going into schools to give students an insight into life in the digital sector and advice on the jobs that exist within the digital economy.

Digital Day sees schools set their students three challenges, provided by sponsors Standard Life, Vodafone and Sony Music. Teams of five are competing by taking part in workshops alongside leading British digital industry professionals.

  • Sony Music’s brief is to develop a digital marketing campaign to help promote the release of a new album by Calvin Harris, One Direction, Little Mix, George Ezra or Paloma Faith.
  • Standard Life’s challenge is to create a digital solution encouraging young people to save by engaging them with an app or social media campaign.
  • Vodafone’s brief is for students to reimagine the ‘My Vodafone’ app, encouraging more customers to download and regularly use it.
  • The prizes up for grabs on Digital Day include three £500 cash prizes for the winning teams’ schools, visits to a ground-breaking video games studio, Microsoft HQ in Reading for the ‘Xbox tour’, Microsoft’s Showcase Classroom and a tour around Channel 4 News London. Students also have the chance to win preferential access to the prestigious Creative Pioneers apprenticeship scheme plus a highly sought after Digital Day 2015 Winners trophy.

The student entries will be judged by a panel of industry experts. There is also a possibility that the ideas will be implemented by the sponsor brands if the winners’ work convinces.