Earlier this month APM launched its skills manifesto which identified seven policy issues that the next government will need to tackle to ensure that the UK is well positioned to develop and maintain the skills base required by today’s emerging workforce to compete on the global stage.
One of the key policy issues identified within the manifesto was digital skills, a skill which many assume is firmly embedded across the UK population as generation X and even Y enter the job market. As technology continues to drive change and functions are increasingly automated, we need to invest in digital skills and cannot assume the ‘born digital’ generation will naturally adapt.
In construction, where projects are continually growing in scale and complexity, digital technologies offer huge potential for improving productivity. It is estimated that the typical large project across all asset types overruns its schedule by an average of 20% and exceeds its budget by 80%. The application of digital technologies has been shown to reduce cost and schedule overruns by at least 10-15%, and by even more on complex projects. While digital technologies can make organisations more efficient and provide tools for better managing change and uncertainties, the challenge remains of developing teams that hold the necessary digital skills.
Indeed, even though almost 90% of new jobs require digital skills, and with three quarters of employers stating that they are unwilling to interview candidates who do not have basic IT skills, (according to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Digital skills crises Second Report of Session 2016-2017) it is shocking to find out that a deficit in digital skill training has left us with a skills gap, causing an impact of around £63bn a year in lost income across the economy.
It is for that reason APM welcomed the publication of the previous government’s Digital Strategy and the Digital Skills Partnership, an important policy development.