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BIMA Calls on UK Government to Embed Digital Literacy across Curriculum

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London, UK
As Digital Day schools jump in numbers, BIMA is calling on the government to address the nation’s talent pipeline problem
BIMA, the UK’s digital and tech trade body, is calling on the government to address the nation’s talent pipeline problem by embedding digital literacy across the curriculum.

The call comes as BIMA begins the run up to Digital Day 2019 (12 November), an annual national day of action that connects digital and tech companies with students in schools around the country. Over 5000 students took part last year - with that figure expected to jump in 2019 - with school registrations almost double that of last year’s numbers at this time (85 were registered by July 2018 for last year’s Digital Day, compared to 162 registered so far in 2019). Industry participation is also up by two thirds (28 companies were registered for Digital Day 2018 by July 2018 compared to 95 registered in June 2019 for this year’s Digital Day). 

BIMA has found that over one third (34% of those surveyed after Digital Day 2018) of students feel they don't get the digital learning they need, with computer studies courses only covering a specific and limited area of digital skills, like coding. BIMA warns that limiting digital education to the computer room is a blinkered approach that will damage the economy long term.

Natalie Gross, BIMA co-president says: “The vast majority of UK businesses are driven by digital, whether through their products, operations and communications. Amazing new technologies are becoming part of our lives, from AI, to self-driving cars, to virtual reality and blockchain. We need people who can create them, and we need people who can imagine how to use them across all kinds of markets.”

She continues: “People come from all over the world to work in the UK’s tech and digital sector, but we are failing as a talent producer. By isolating digital skills development in the computer room, we are missing an opportunity to open young people’s eyes to the way technology can transform their futures, whatever career they choose.”

BIMA is not alone in highlighting the issue. A recent CBI/TCS report has reinforced the talent pipeline crisis, with 60% of larger firms reporting that their digital skills needs will increase dramatically over the next three to five years. Small businesses are even more desperate - with 69% reporting they will see a significant increase over the next two years.

Digital Day takes place on 12 November, 2019 across the UK, and is part of the range of initiatives run by the BIMA Young Talent Council. The deadline for schools and businesses to register is 31 October 2019. Visit the BIMA Digital Day website for more information.

Amanda Follit, chair of BIMA’s Young Talent Council, says: “We urgently need to acknowledge and address the gaps that exist in our approach to digital education. They have led to a talent pipeline crisis that UK businesses cannot afford to face. BIMA Digital Day does its part by getting industry into schools to help students understand the skills they need to succeed and the opportunities that await them. The government needs to do its part by exploring different approaches to education, from classroom to peer- and community-based learning, and through the power of strategic industry partnerships working inside communities.”

BIMA Digital Day quick facts:

  • Over 200 schools and businesses and 5,000 13-15 year olds are expected take part around the UK in 2019.
  • Students will submit their activities to a panel of experts with winning schools winning a cash prize. Winning teams take part in workshops with leading brands and industry experts.
  • 90% of participants say they would consider a career in digital as a result of the day.
  • BIMA Digital Day works with challenge partners to create real world briefs for students to work on. Past partners include Vodafone UK, The FA, BBC Studios, Microsoft, and Channel 4.

BIMA Digital Day 2018 winners from Abbots Lea school attend a Vodafone workshop: