The Importance of Digital Skills for Birmingham’s Young People #nextgenskills

April 22nd 2013 Next Generation Skills Event in Millennium Point

Fantastic event; big attendance, many views, some conflicting.  Programme for the day here  hastag for the day was #nextgenskills

Speech of Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council

A few bullet points from the event

  • Great vision for the future of Millennium Point 
  • Only 18% of jobs in IT sector filled by women
  • IT sector jobs buoyant
  • ASOS’s (online retailer) international web department moving to Birmingham
  • Having a computer science degree doesn’t necessarily help you get a job
  • Real need for internships
  • Birmingham has more SME activity than Tech City – we just don’t shout about it
  • Schools equipment and teachers often behind what youngster have and know
  • National curricula/Ofsted criteria needs changing to incorporate employability. 
  • Microsoft quietly working in Birmingham
  • Microsoft announces its Get On programme for Birmingham enterpreneurs and young people – 500 places for brummies
  • 1000 apprenticeships in 100 days launched tomorrow says Sir Albert 
  • 20% youth unemployment and yet skills shortages mean jobs vacancies can’t be filled
  • The unused digital skills sitting within the one million unemployed young people is estimated to be worth £6.7 billion

I look forward to a more considered write up of the event.



  1. While I accept most of what was said yesterday there are a number of issues that were not addressed, or just touched on and then skirted around.
    The first was the participation of women in IT. While it was mentioned that only 18% of IT jobs are taken by women only 10% of the speakers in the general sessions were women.
    The second, for me was the focus of the workshop ‘Building the right skills for a digital age’. We spent more time discussing the recording of the skills and only at the end did we ever mention the need to change the pedagogical process, as exampled by Washwood Heath Technology College.
    If we are to create an education system that provides young people with skills for the digital age we need to acknowledge that learning and teaching need to be radically different to current practice.
    It is not about recording what skills young people have but designing a curriculum that fuses knowledge acquisition and subject skills together with social skills (decision making, responsibility for actions, team work, networking, etc)
    This fusion should, as Liam Nolan said, build on the basics of English and Mathematics.
    Yet secondary schools are measured on 5 or more C+ GCSEs, regurgitation of knowledge within a modified archaic process that was developed to feed the growth of universities in the middle of the of the last century.
    If we are to grow our economy then schools have to go back to basics, developing skills in young people that will serve them well on their journey into the world of work, skills that allow young people to choose jobs that they are interested in and believe they can make a living from it. But more importantly, beyond the basic of English and maths we need to engender in young people the ability to continue learning and adapting.
    This, perhaps, entails moving away from the specialist skills we have based our education system on since time immemorial. We need to balance the specialist medical, accounting, scientific, artistic skills with general and continual learning, and this brings into question the fundamental role of Higher Education in the future.
    Those are the issues that I believe we need to address not just documenting and evidencing a student’s skills for an employer.

  2. Ted,
    Valid points …I think the need for curriculum change came across clearly in the main sessions. The role of women in the event was commented upon on twitter and again is an entirely valid point that should in any future event be tackled if at all possible

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