Microsoft and Risual partnering to create academies to conquer UK digital skills gap

Kit McDonald

Digital task tests across the UK revealed a severe lack of basic technological skills for nearly a quarter of the population. These skills are based on what most tech savvy users would consider the simplest of tasks: Managing Information, Communicating, Transacting, Creating, and Problem Solving. More specifically, they evaluated over 4,000 interviews that were conducted with questions asking which of these tasks they could

More specifically, the tests evaluated over 4,000 interviews that were conducted with questions asking which of these tasks respondents could perform and if they had done any of the tasks in the last three months. As the Microsoft Developer blog outlined, here are some of the tasks:

  • Use a search engine to look for information online
  • Find a website visited before
  • Download/save a photo found online
  • Communicating through email or messaging services carefullyBuying items and services from websites, buying and installing applications on a device
  • Buying items and services from websites
  • Buying and installing applications on a device
  • Complete online application forms with personal details
  • Create something new from existing online images, music, or video
  • Verify source of information found online
  • Solve a problem with a device/digital service with online help

The results came back with 23%, approximately 12.6 million adults, across the UK that didn’t meet the very basic digital skills required. Test results were exceptionally poor in Wales, where internet access is the lowest, with only 62% meeting the expected standards. The rather thorough results considered demographics and comparisons between genders, age, social status, and location. The curious can have a look at the official 39-page published report.

This is unacceptable according to businesses that claim many potential employees lack the crucial technological skills. The commercial world continues to develop at a fast pace towards more digital communication and services, which leaves a significant ‘digital gap’ in the UK’s younger population. As a response, five new academies will be opening up across the UK.

Microsoft and Risual have partnered up to bridge students’ tech skills and bring them up to speed as a digitally literate workforce. Tackling the area of highest concern, the Cardiff and Vale College will be launching the new academy program. It will provide students with digital learning, workshops with industry experts, and even assist with Digital and IT apprenticeships with Microsoft units.

Mike James, Principle and Chief Executive of the college made a public statement about the educational solution:

“By working with employers to highlight digital skills requirements in their businesses and across sectors we can collaboratively plan for the development of future skills, so we are truly delivering tomorrows skills needs, today. We want to use this Academy and our status as a risual Microsoft Academy to generate a buzz about careers in this vital sector amongst the future workforce; highlighting it is a well-paid and exciting sector offering long-term careers.”

Moving forward, more academies will be opened up for the UK, providing a better workforce and jobs in a digitally driven society. Let us know in the comments what you think about Microsoft’s continued efforts at technology education.