Industry leaders to talk about digital skills

Friday 29 August 2014

IT contractors, limited companies and freelancers will get some insight into how they can prepare for the future as the House of Lords' Digital Skills Committee prepares to quiz industry leaders.

The companies due to be quizzed on Monday September 1st are Virgin Media, BT, Direct Line, McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and the British Chambers of Commerce. As they are considered to be experts in the digital field, they will be asked about such aspects as how the digital skills base in the UK can prepare for the future, whether current infrastructure is in need of improvement and the need for faster broadband in terms of helping business development.

Indeed, the digital skills of the UK economy have been a point that has been making companies concerned over the past couple of years. Yet this is good news for IT contractors and umbrella company contractors with niche skills as they have been in high demand.

Research from The Prince's Trust and HSBC shows 73 per cent of British businesses believe that the skills crisis will hit the UK in the next three years. In fact 32 per cent believe that there is already a skill shortage at entry level, while 53 per cent say they are having trouble filling vacancies. To plug the gap, contractors among a variety of sectors, including IT, have been called upon.

However, the pressure on contractors to upskill in order to make themselves more appealing to businesses does remain. Yet it is tricky to understand which areas they need to upskill in to make themselves more appealing.

As such, a second panel will be held on September 2nd to talk about the skills that the workers of tomorrow will need and how digital expertise in the UK compares with other countries.

Witnesses giving evidence will include professor of management and marketing from the London Business School Patrick Barwise. Joining him will be BBC, Ofcom and the Tinder Foundation.

Baroness Morgan has said that those who want to follow the panels will be able to do so by visiting the parliamentary TV channel and also checking Twitter. Contractors and companies who have a strong interest in the matter as well as experience and expertise in the digital sector are also invited to submit their own evidence.

The panels and evidence are being used as part of a report to be put together by the Digital Skills Committee. Ms Morgan has said that the report is being put together at a very fast pace so that final recommendations can be published early on next year.

Contractors with digital skills are likely to be at the forefront of growth in London for the next five years. The London Business Survey from the Confederation of British Industry and KPMG said technology and the creative industries are set to drive growth.

In turn, this high demand could also translate to raised pay rates for IT contractors, particularly as daily rates have been largely on the rise.

By Victoria McDonnell

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