Skills to support a digital economy: Bis select committee launches inquiry into future expertise needs

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Further education providers have been invited, along with businesses and tech entrepreneurs, to share their views on what action the UK government should take to ensure the workforce has the skills to support a digital economy.

The Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) select committee announced an inquiry into the barriers UK businesses face in the digital economy and the measures that can be taken to overcome these. Submissions to the consultation can be made until 29 October.

Committee chair Iain Wright MP said digital technology was rapidly changing the economic landscape in which firms operate, and while there were “huge opportunities for competitive advantage for UK firms” there were also “real challenges”.

“We want to hear from all those interested and involved in this area,” he added.  

New College Durham principal and Association of Colleges president John Widdowson told TES that colleges had an important role to play, and their effective relationships with employers were key.

"The strength we bring is the expertise we gained from offering the apprenticeship programme,” he said. “Technology moves so fast, so we have to offer the right combination of skills.”

Mr Widdowson added: “There is a role to play for higher-level apprenticeships,” with colleges well placed to help meet that demand, he said. To support that development, the government should consider simplifying the funding structure for these programmes, he continued.

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