Annex E: The Digital Skills Agenda
Young people need to develop digital skills in order to thrive in modern society and the workplace. The digital technology sector and wider economy can offer exciting and well-rewarded careers to those with the right high level skills and attributes. Through our work on digital skills we can forge strong links between the two, to the benefit of our young people and economy alike.
The Digital Learner Journey - Vision
We want to ensure that from the earliest stages of their education, children can begin to develop digital literacy, finding stimulation in early years settings and schools which use digital technology to enrich learning across the curriculum. As they advance through education, they should develop increasingly sophisticated technical skills, becoming confident in the creation as well as use of digital materials. Across a range of different subjects, they will develop computational thinking, taking a logical and creative approach to problem solving. They will learn more about different jobs, the use they can make of their digital skills in a wide range of careers and the pathways that they can take to reach them. They can develop their technical expertise both in the classroom and through out-of-school clubs. Both girls and boys will value their digital skills and the opportunities they offer. Links between schools, colleges, universities and industry will ensure that their learning is enriched by a range of professionals. This will help them take the next step - whether that's into further/higher education, apprenticeship or a job - and continue to build a future where their learning, life and work are all enhanced by their digital skills.
Digital Skills Investment Plan
Since the 2014 launch of the ICT/Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan ( SIP), a strong public/private sector partnership, supported by £8.5 million Scottish Government funding, has driven forward a range of initiatives to ensure that:
- employers have the short and long-term pipeline of digital talent which they require; and
- individuals are equipped to access the many high-quality jobs which the Digital Technologies sector and wider economy can offer.
The SIP is structured around a number of objectives and themes:
A key feature of the Digital Technologies SIP is that it provides a framework and action plan for public bodies, industry and education to invest in and take forward projects jointly.
Initiatives like CodeClan, Scotland's first accredited digital skills academy providing an intensive retraining programme, demonstrate that innovative approaches can be achieved through private and public sector working to jointly develop solutions. This has helped to address the sector's immediate needs.
Attention is now particularly focused on broadening the talent pipeline over time, ensuring that our education system both responds to and capitalises on the future high quality job opportunities available to young people.
This aligns closely with our work on a forthcoming Scottish Government STEM strategy which will raise the levels of STEM enthusiasm, skills and knowledge in order to support attainment in learning, life and to meet labour market needs. Digital will be a key element of that strategy. Likewise, we are acting to ensure we build on the clear synergies between the work on digital skills and wider activity on Developing the Young Workforce. The Digital Technologies sector can offer valuable opportunities to test and improve industry/education links more generally.
Actions being taken both through and beyond the Skills Investment Plan include:
- A refresh of relevant elements of the curriculum, resulting in updated expectations and an increased focus on digital skills development.
- Digital Schools - a new programme bringing together industry and education representatives to test innovative approaches to high level digital skills development in secondary schools, using regional pathfinders with a view to developing a national framework and transforming practice.
- Digital World - an industry-led marketing campaign raising awareness of the varied and attractive careers available to those with requisite digital skills and qualifications.
- Digital Xtra - a co-ordinated approach to funding for extra-curricular activities such as coding clubs, in particular encouraging girls and other under-represented groups to develop these key skills.
- A range of support to build teacher confidence and capacity. For example, Education Scotland digital development officers offering support in the use of technology and development of digital skills in primary schools across Scotland; with new materials and free workshops available through the Barefoot Computing programme; and a new Digital Schools Award available in primary schools.
- Using the Digital Schools framework and other means to explore and respond to professional development needs at secondary level.
- Work to boost the number of Computing Science teachers, encouraging more to enter the profession with our 'Inspiring Teachers' campaign, increased student intake targets and efforts to develop innovative routes into the profession.
- Ongoing work to expand and refresh the suite of qualifications available to develop and accredit learners' digital skills (e.g. new National Progression Award in Cyber Security).
- Developing new vocational digital pathways such as digital Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships to increase both the numbers of new entrants and educational routes into the sector. This involves schools, colleges and universities working in partnership with industry to ensure that these courses remain relevant to industry requirements.
- Plans for a Digital Gender Action Plan (due November 2016) to encourage more young women to enter the Digital Technologies sector.
- Investment in Cyber Security skills and promotion of the careers opportunities available in this key sector of the digital economy. For example, opportunities for senior pupils to attend a residential Cyber Camp at Glasgow Caledonian University and a Cyber Skills day for girls at Napier University, through a partnership with GCHQ.
- A new Digital Skills Partnership building stronger links between employers, colleges and universities with a view to improved knowledge sharing and the potential for specific courses to be quality assured. This will ease the transition between education and employment for many young people.
This wide-ranging series of actions will help to equip all young people with the digital skills they need to thrive in modern society and the workplace, creating a pathway into high quality careers in the Digital Technologies sector and wider economy, thereby increasing national productivity and growth.
Email: Russell Cockburn, email@example.com