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Plugging the digital skills gap

Published on: 25 January 2018

Prime Minister announces £20 million for Institute of Coding to train next generation of digital specialists.

The next generation of digital specialists will be created through the new Institute of Coding, a consortium of universities – including Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland - businesses and industry experts, set up to tackle the UK’s digital skills gap.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos today, Prime Minister Theresa May outlined how the Institute of Coding will create new degree level courses to equip people of all ages with the digital skills they need.

The consortium includes industry giants such as IBM, Cisco, BT and Microsoft, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 25 universities, and professional bodies such as the British Computer Society and CREST. 

Plugging the digital skills gap

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

“A world-class pipeline of digital skills are essential to the UK’s ability to shape our future. By working together, universities, employers and industry leaders can help graduates build the right skills, in fields from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to industrial design.

“The Institute of Coding will play a central role in this. Employers will have a tangible input to the curriculum, working hand-in-hand with universities to develop specialist skills in areas where they are needed most. As we have outlined in the Industrial Strategy, this is part of our ambition to embrace technological change and give us a more competitive edge in the future.”

The 25 universities involved, led by the University of Bath, range from sector leaders in business and computer science (UCL and Newcastle University) to experts in arts and design (University of the Arts) to specialists in widening participation and outreach (Open University and Birkbeck College).

Newcastle University’s Professor Aad van Moorsel, who will co-lead the North-East arm of the Institute, said:

“The computing industry is crying out for more computer scientists equipped with the right skills for the future.  Through the new Institute, we will be able to involve industry much more closely, through apprenticeships and teaching, and help fill the digital skills gap we currently face.

“The North East’s digital sector is one of the fastest growing in the country.  Together with our world-leading experts in academia and industry we are well-placed to play a key role in this exciting new project.”

Boost for the region

Professor Andrew Wathey CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, said:

“The digital skills shortage is a clear concern for the North East, in view of its rapidly growing digital sector, so we are delighted to be a part of this exciting and innovative collaboration, working with other universities and industry partners in the region and across the UK to help address this challenge.

“The Institute of Coding will focus on priorities which Northumbria is well-placed to contribute, meeting the need for high-quality programmes to educate students and teachers and to upskill staff working in the sector, and drawing especially on Northumbria's expertise in data analytics, artificial intelligence, cyber security, and human-computer interaction.”

Professor Alastair Irons, Academic Dean for the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Sunderland, said:

“We are delighted to be part of the successful consortium for the Institute of Coding and look forward to working with the group nationally and partner Universities in the North East to deliver the objectives of the project.

“The Institute of Coding provides a real opportunity to address the digital skills gap and utilise the expertise in the University sector to work with employers, to ensure a flow of highly skilled digital graduates for business and industry.”


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