The recent Skills Summit, held at the historic House of Parliament under the expert guidance of Steve George Hilley, founder of Centropy, brought together individuals from various sectors. The panel included Rachid Hourizi MBE, director of the Institute of Coding; Sharon Davies, CEO of Young Enterprise UK; John Kirk, Group Deputy CEO of Inspired Thinking Group; Michael Thornton, senior director of the public sector at Investigo; Daniel Haville, founder of BI:PROCSI; and Margo Waldorf, founder of Change Awards.
The event, which revolved around the themes of skills, digital skills, policy, training, and coding, gathered a diverse group of attendees and contributors. Among them, Rebeca Riofrio, Chairwoman for the Parliamentary Society and Marketing Manager at Anglia Ruskin University, along with Laura Timm from the Federation of Small Business, brought their invaluable perspectives to the discussions. Sennait Ghebreab, Programme Leader of Fashion Business Undergraduate at the Istituto Marangoni, attended with her students Guy Chen, Ido Shemesh, Jade Abena, and Sofia Siao. Other notable guests included Ali Najaflo of Pen9Studios and Juliet Herrera, CEO of the Reclaimery.
The summit provided a platform to explore multifaceted issues related to skills, the evolving workforce, AI technology, and the pressing need to equip older individuals with new skills in our ever-changing world. One key takeaway was the recognition that both qualifications and skills hold immense importance. A workforce with low qualifications is likely to exhibit low levels of skills, which, in turn, impact economic growth and prosperity. The event sparked thought-provoking questions about improving technological skills in universities, the inclusion of essential skills in curricula, and the responsibility for making these skills available in workplaces—whether it lies with employees or employers.
The summit also shed light on some eye-opening issues in the UK concerning skills.
After Research on Digital Skills for the Older Generation:
With a startling 25% of people aged 65 and over in the UK not using the internet, this digital divide risks cutting off older individuals from essential services, including banking, shopping, health services, and communication platforms. The primary reasons for this gap include a lack of skills, mistrust of the internet, and limited access to quality equipment and broadband.
In the UK, the Digital Champions Programme works on a crucial initiative in this field. This program empowers individuals to become "Digital Champions" who help others get online, offering support through one-on-one sessions, IT drop-in sessions, and community events. These champions come from diverse backgrounds and receive training and support to inspire and assist older people in developing their digital skills and confidence.
Furthermore, the summit delved into the significance of soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. Research conducted by the Skills Builder Partnership, in collaboration with CIPD, KPMG, and Edge Foundation, revealed that the absence of opportunities for building these essential skills costs the UK a staggering £22.2 billion annually. People with higher levels of essential skills earn an average of £4,600 more each year.
This data also demonstrates that soft skills are considered pivotal by the workforce, with 92% of respondents acknowledging their importance for career development. Employers were encouraged to incorporate soft skills development into their organizational culture, emphasizing the need to embed these skills throughout the employment lifecycle.
In conclusion, the Skills Summit at the House of Parliament served as a significant platform for thought leaders and experts to address critical issues related to skills in the modern world. It illuminated the importance of both digital and soft skills in ensuring economic prosperity and individual well-being. The event called for collaborative efforts from academia, businesses, and policymakers to bridge skill gaps and foster a workforce ready for the challenges of the digital age.