Coadec: Education budget cuts threaten UK's tech sector

Body calls on government to fund software skills training for 16-19 year olds

powering digital skills

Cuts to education budgets supporting 16-19-year-olds could harm growth in the UK tech sector, according to startup trade body Coadec.

The group warned that the UK will struggle to fill technology roles after the school budget for older teenagers has dropped 14% in real terms since 2011, with a further 8% cut forecast by 2021.

Its report, A Global Britain: From local startups to international markets, found that there is only a small pool of STEM subject students post-GCSE, leaving a much smaller pool from which to recruit teachers. Meanwhile, it claimed the Maths pass rate has remained low, despite it being compulsory for pupils to retake failed Maths and English grades. 

This is all against a background of a forecast requirement for 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020, according to research by O2. to satisfy the UK's digital potential, according to research published by O2 in October 2015.

Coadec suggested the government should begin to improve the situation by getting higher quality maths and English providers onboard and changing the examinations students take so they're not exactly the same as those taken at GCSE level.

It also called for the government to invest more money in software training courses to provide more vocational training for students, which would also address the developer skills shortage.

"The UK is faced with a unique opportunity to become a world-leading tech hub and it's crucial the government does everything possible to increase the flow of talent to one of the UK's fastest growing sectors," Alex Depledge MBE, chair of Coadec, said.

"That means increasing the proportion of 16-19-year-olds studying mathematics and STEM subjects to a high level, and a funding boost for software development training."

Coadec also highlighted computer science degrees as a problem area. Students who graduate with such a degree have the highest rate of unemployment and employers say this is because the skills students learn while on the courses are not in line with the skills they need to do the job.

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