Digital skills: trade bodies urge government investment in training programmes

The UK is facing a skills shortage across many sectors. Has today’s budget given the nation's thriving digital sector a fair share of training investment?

Following today’s budget in the UK, trade bodies and professional associations across the the country have called on the government to support industry-led jobs and skills training programmes – to address the UK’s digital skills crisis and strengthen its economic recovery from coronavirus.

The Data & Marketing Association (DMA), Market Research Society (MRS), and Advertising Association (AA) proposed that some of the increased funding available for the National Skills Fund should be dedicated to industry-led qualifications to help fill thousands of immediate job openings. 

The UK Government has an opportunity to provide effective training programmes developed by employers for employers, which will ensure professionals are equipped with the skillsets that are most desirable to prospective employers.

Trade and professional bodies have a profound reach with the SME and business community across the UK, so empowering them to deliver skills programmes that will upskill and reskill the UK workforce will contribute to economic growth and help businesses recover from the pandemic.

“The government is missing a huge opportunity to reduce the vast digital skills gaps that exist across the economy and should allocate a specific budget to trade association qualifications. Trade and professional bodies are best placed to help with their strong industry connections and understanding of the skills that employers require most,” said Chris Combemale CEO of the Data and Marketing Association. “All such qualifications are developed by employers for employers. Crucially, these employers have the jobs that need filling immediately and trust the quality of training provided by their industry association.”

"Skills bootcamps'

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his spending review and autumn budget and confirmed a number of investments for the skills sector.

He promised that “total spending on skills will increase over the parliament by £3.8 billion by 2024-25, equivalent to a cash increase of 42 per cent (26 per cent in real terms) compared to 2019-20”.

However, the accompanying ‘red book’ did not provide clarity about how much of this funding is brand new money. 

The spending review document states that the government will provide “a total investment of £554 million by 2024-25 to substantially increase retraining and upskilling opportunities for adults”.

It continues: “This provides a 29 percent real terms uplift in adult skills funding compared to 2019-20 and meets the government’s commitment to a national skills fund. This includes giving more adults access to courses at level 3 in in-demand areas such as engineering and digital skills, scales up skills bootcamps, supports reforms to the adult skills funding system, and invests in the skills local employers need.”