On 14 July 2020, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Education, Gillian Keegan MP, outlined Government plans to ensure digital skills are available to all. The full written response can be read below:
Digital Technology: Training
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
14 July 2020
Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to help ensure digital skills are available to everybody who needs them; and what discussions he has had with organisations involved in digital skills training on delivering that training.
Gillian Keegan: The government recognises the critical importance of digital skills both in everyday life and for the wider UK economy. That is why we have invested in digital skills that support lifelong learning and the acquisition of digital skills from foundation level right through to those required for cutting edge digital industries.
The acquisition of digital skills in the school space is supported by the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), backed by investment of £84 million. The NCCE are delivering a comprehensive programme to improve the teaching of computing and drive up participation in computer science, particularly amongst girls.
We are also reforming technical education, with the support of employers, including new apprenticeships in data science, creative digital design, network engineering and cyber security. The first of 3 new Digital T Levels (Digital Production, Design and Development) will be introduced this September with a further two (Digital Support and Services and Digital Business Services) to follow in 2021.
In April this year, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we provided opportunities for people to acquire new skills whilst at home by launching the Skills Toolkit. This Toolkit gives people access to free, high quality digital and numeracy courses and resources to help build up their skills, progress in work and enhance their career prospects. It was developed by a range of businesses, educational institutions and professional bodies.
From August 2020, adults with no or low digital skills will have full funding to undertake improved digital skills qualifications, based on new national standards for essential digital skills, up to Level 1.
Finally the Government has committed £2.5 billion investment through the National Skills Fund that provides a great opportunity to dramatically reboot the adult skills landscape. Boosting productivity and ensuring more people and places can share in the rewards that improved productivity can bring. We are keen to hear views from a wide range of stakeholders, including digital skills providers, that is why we plan to launch a consultation at a time when those who have an interest are able to engage. We will use the insights we gain to build an understanding of how best to target the fund, to ensure it has the best possible impact.