The Digital Skills Summit

Delighted to attend the Digital Skills Summit (hosted by the CBI at the fabulous Allstate NI offices beside Central Station). There were a lot of new faces and a lot of old faces (mine included) present.

We have known for more than a decade that Northern Ireland has been teetering on the precipice of a digital skills gap and the situation is now getting to breaking point. We have worked on skills-based strategies through multiple organisations and always ended up being ultimately blocked by lack of expertise in government and lack of flexibility in universities; not to mention investment.

I’m tremendously encouraged by this latest development, with smart and dedicated people from Allstate, Liberty IT, Kainos and Instil taking the leadership roles in telling government what is needed. And many thanks are due to the CBI which has tremendous punch in terms of evidence-based inquiry and plainly found there is an immense market failure.

This comes out only a week after we are told that Universities have trained so many surplus teachers that they’re beginning a minimum wage internship for unemployed teachers.

There is an absolute need for decisive action. Like the RAP/graduate programmes of the dot-com era. And a renewed focus on HNDs as an additional careers access route.

At RAISE, we see the struggles of startups (and our close links to Digital Circle and Momentum in our history) show these problems are age-old and have not gone away. We have hope.


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