Scotland performing better as digital skills gap threatens UK growth, says BIMA

Written by Michelle Rodger

Regional divides in the education system, a lack of awareness of the opportunities available and a misaligned curriculum leave students unprepared to engage with the UK’s booming digital economy, which is growing 2.6 times faster than other industries, says the British Interactive Media Association BIMA.

But the organisation says it is excited for Scotland, having trebled participation from schools and industry thanks to the support of the DYWs, Education Scotland and the BIMA Scotland Council.

“In fact we were taken by surprise by the take up from schools,” said a BIMA spokesperson, “Had we been better prepared we would be reporting even bigger percentage participation up take.

“We are already preparing with exciting partnerships for 2019 to ensure the programme continues its exponential growth and importantly reaches as many students as possible.”

The UK’s digital trade body makes the announcement ahead of the sixth annual BIMA Digital Day (13 November), which connects digital and tech companies with schools around the country for a day of hands-on activities.

BIMA has found fewer than 30% of young people in the South West and North East of England are likely to say they know how to code. Just 21.8% of those in the South West and 28.6% in the North East say they learn coding in school.

But more positive results can be found in Scotland, Greater London and the East of England, where between 60-65% of students say they know how to code.

70% of teachers surveyed believe there is not enough focus on digital skills and learning in the National Curriculum and more than 30% of students said they would change or would have chosen their subjects differently as a result of understanding more about a career in digital.

These findings are the result of a survey conducted by BIMA of 2000 students and teachers who participated in BIMA Digital Day 2017.

Natalie Gross, BIMA Co-President said:“Young people continue to miss out on opportunities to have progressive, lucrative careers in the digital and technology sector, the fastest growing industry in Britain. This is because of an inadequate curriculum and a lack of awareness for the opportunities that are available. This lack of skills and lack of awareness is a lethal combination that will serve to stifle the growth of the British economy, at a time when we most need growth and confidence.

Gross continued: “We can change this trajectory. BIMA Digital Day is just one brilliant example of how a real difference can be made. We are calling for a comprehensive review of the curriculum. We need to develop a definitive view of how it can allow Britain to thrive digitally – a view that is shared and championed by industry, government and educators.”

“BIMA is also calling for a Government-backed national communications campaign to educate and inspire – we need a powerful and omnipresent message that clearly lays out the opportunity for young Britons.”

About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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