Nationwide institute to plug digital skills gap
We are part of a £40 million initiative to create the next generation of digital specialists, announced today in a speech by the UK’s Prime Minister in Davos. Known as the Institute of Coding (IoC), Queen Mary will spearhead the theme of boosting equality and diversity in technology-related education and careers.
The tech sector is growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy and experts suggest that more than 500,000 highly trained computer scientists will be needed by 2022. However, the digital skills gap means many need a wider skills base to be more attractive to employers. The Institute will deliver innovative education to learners in industry, higher education and hard-to-reach groups.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos, 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.
Bringing academia and industry together
The new Institute of Coding is a consortium of more than 60 universities, businesses and industry experts and is set to receive £20 million from Government via the Higher Education Funding Council for England to tackle the UK’s digital skills gap. A further £20 million will be matched from industry, including in-kind contributions such as training and equipment.
Queen Mary’s Vice-Principal for Student Experience, Teaching and Learning, Professor Rebecca Lingwood, said: “We are excited to play a leading role in developing the Institute of Coding. The multimillion project will bring industry and academia together to produce a step-change in creating the next generation of digital specialists.
“The Institute’s approach closely aligns with an innovative new teaching model for undergraduate teaching at Queen Mary. The QMUL Model gets students ready for the workplace by broadening their horizons, for example, by giving them the opportunity to travel or experience modules from different academic subjects and develop new skills such as creating business ideas, all of which can help them succeed later on in life.”
Five core themes
The 25 universities involved, led by the University of Bath, range from sector leaders in business and computer science to experts in arts and design to specialists in widening participation and outreach.
Professor Edmund Burke, Vice-Principal for Science and Engineering at Queen Mary, said: “The Institute of Coding will draw upon expertise beyond science and engineering to represent a truly interdisciplinary initiative. Another strength lies in the partnership between business and academia which should lead to a wide range of opportunities to help prepare our students for today’s digital workplace.”
As well as improving the employability of computer scientists to plug the digital skills gap, the Institute aims to bring more people from underrepresented groups into the tech sector. Its work is centred around five core themes:
- University learners (led by the Open University) – To boost graduate employability through a new industry standard targeted at degree level qualifications.
- The digital workforce (led by Aston University) – To develop specialist skills training in areas of strategic importance.
- Digitalising the professions (led by Coventry University) – To transform professions undergoing digital transformation, for example, helping learners retrain via new digital training programmes provided through online and face-to-face learning.
- Widening participation (led by Queen Mary) – To boost equality and diversity in technology-related education and careers by delivering, for example, tailored workshops, bootcamps, innovative learning facilities and other outreach activities. In 2017, female programmers and software developers made up just 3.9 per cent of tech and telecommunications professionals in the UK.
- Knowledge sharing and sustainability (led by the University of Bath) – To share outcomes and good practice, ensuring long-term sustainability of the IoC. This will include building up an evidence base of research, analysis and intelligence to anticipate future skills.
The Institute will also work with outreach and community groups, schools and FE colleges to encourage a larger number of currently under-represented groups into digital education. One early focus will be on increasing the number of women choosing to work in the digital sector and on support for those returning to work.
- Study Computer Science at Queen Mary - find out more about the course.
- Head to the Institute of Coding website
- Find out more about cs4fn - Queen Mary's computer science magazine