THURSDAY 9 MAR 2017 3:33 PM

AN INTERACTIVE ISLAND

According to the minister of state for digital and culture, Matt Hancock MP, around 23% of UK adult lack basic digital skills. With approximately 90% of new job roles requiring at least a base digital knowledge, equipping the working population with the ability to navigate tech is, in 2017, more vital than ever before. The digital strategy recently revealed by the UK government takes steps towards ensuring employees are well prepared for what will be an increasingly digitised future workplace.

Triggered by fears that Britain’s impending exit from the European Union might contribute to a continued digital deficit, the £1b digital connectivity pledge made by the chancellor during the 2016 Autumn Statement will be upheld. In addition, the government promises country-wide events and workshops to promote the use of digital skills.

Lessons for children on how to code – as early as primary school – are also set to become engrained in the curriculum, taking the lead of the handful of schools already offering compulsory coding lessons. Indeed, such is its importance that coding is being taught to around 45,000 school-aged children by Barclays. The bank also pledges to communicate general digital skills and online safety.

Secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Karen Bradley, says, "The UK's world-leading digital sectors are a major driver of growth and productivity, and we are determined to protect and strengthen them.”

Personalised digital skills training is being offered by Lloyds Banking Group. Training workers of all sectors in new technology is also expected to generate growth in areas of the UK which traditionally rely on EU funding and subsidies. Google’s summer programme of digital skills is therefore focused on coastal towns, with the aim to develop new growth strategies. For communicators, this could mean a shift away from the sector as urban-, particularly London-, centric.

Bradley continues, "This digital strategy sets a path to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business, trial a new technology, or undertake advanced research as part of the government's plan to build a modern, dynamic and global trading nation."

By working with a variety of companies, the government hopes business investment will help plug the digital skills gap emerging between different generations of employees. For those working in the communications profession, such as PR, digital skills constitute a large part of the role; it is crucial communicators of the future enter the profession with a diverse and expansive skillset.

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