Nicola is leading the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s inquiry in to Digital Skills. The inquiry explores the financial impact of the lack of basic digital skills on the economy and what the Government, industry and universities are doing to address the problem.
The UK is a world leader in big data research across many disciplines and our tech sector is growing rapidly. But we are facing a worrying digital skills gap which could hold us back. There has been a gradual shift to introduce digital technology in schools through ICT and the Government has introduced a computing curriculum up to GCSE level. Nicola’s committee is concerned that many ICT teachers do not have the knowledge or qualifications to teach the new computing curriculum, and so Nicola raised the issue in Education Questions directly to the Minister to urge the Government to tackle the digital skills crisis.
Digital skills are fundamental to the success of our knowledge economy, but evidence given to the Science and Technology Committee during its inquiry showed that only 35% of ICT teachers have a specialist qualification, and more than half lack confidence when it comes to delivering the new computing curriculum. What steps are the Government taking to train ICT teachers, and to ensure that we are equipping young people with the skills that they need not just for today’s workplace, but for a jobs market that may be unrecognisable in a decade.
The Education Minister, Nick Gibb MP, responded to answer Nicola and assure her of the commitment to train teachers:
Digital literacy is, of course, a core part of the national curriculum, and computing is a statutory subject in all four key stages in maintained schools. We are training a cadre of specialists who can cascade the knowledge that teachers require in order to be able to teach that very important subject.