The UK Government has recently announced that it will be making over £1 million available in an attempt to improve diversity in the country’s tech and digital skills.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport hopes to use the money to improve the digital skills of people in under-represented groups within these fast-growing industries. The Digital Skills Innovation Fund, as the initiative is called, will focus on helping people from minority backgrounds and those who live in lower socioeconomic areas. It will also help women and disabled people, all with the aim of improving digital skills and giving people the tools to secure and succeed in digital roles.
The Government believes that not only will this help level the playing field when it comes to diversity in tech and digital roles, but it will also address crucial skills shortages in local communities. It is hoped that the move will bring an improvement to the UK’s digital economy, which is growing around 2.6 times faster than the overall economy.
Commenting on the launch of the Digital Skills Innovation Fund, the Minister for Digital Margot James said:
“It is crucial everyone is able to take advantage of digital technology, whether it is to learn how to use the internet or develop the skills to work in a tech role.
If we want to maintain our position as a world-leading digital economy we need to work with industry, local authorities and the voluntary sector to develop solutions so no-one is left behind.”
Disappointing diversity statistics revealed
Government research shows that certain groups of people are significantly under-represented when looking at the IT, tech and digital sectors in the UK as a whole. For example, research has shown that just 17% of the digital workforce is female. This under-representation also extends to the uptake of digital skills qualifications, with fewer women than men undergoing training. Studies show that people who are unemployed are also 5% more likely to lack basic digital skills.
John Fisher, the Chief Executive of digital inclusion charity Citizens Online, also said:
“We know it’s becoming increasingly important that everybody in our society has the skills and confidence to be online; yet disabled people are four times more likely to lack essential digital skills then the general population and 28 per cent of those over 60 are offline.”
In addition to the £1 million available in the Digital Skills Innovation Fund, the government is putting aside £400,000 to help older and disabled people to master basic digital skills including using apps and search engines and booking GP appointments online. This will be known as the Digital Inclusion Fund, which will be managed by Citizens Online.
If you’re looking to increase diversity in your organisation’s digital department or you’re a tech professional looking for a new challenge, please get in touch with SOLOS Consultants to see how our specialist team can help. Call us on 115 9274400 or email email@example.com.
photo courtesy of Stuart Miles @freedigitalphotos.net