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Digital Skills in Wales

Written by Samantha Phillips, Marketing Manager at Skyscape Cloud Services

The Inaugural Digital Leaders Wales event was well-attended with nearly 50 representatives from central and local government, private sector, academia and not-for-profit. The Salon tackled the topic of how to develop digital skills in Wales.

Oliver Morley, CEO at DVLA, opened the discussion with some great stats on digital transformation at DVLA including the fact that nearly 60% of all transactions are now made online. Oliver proposed that to enable successful digital transformation you not only need the right technology and policies in place but you also need the whole ‘landscape’ working perfectly, so you have to develop and recruit skills in tandem as well. To achieve this Oliver made a case for ensuring employers in Wales can

  • Tell a compelling story in terms of the interesting work available, the potential for progression and the chance to be involved in transforming public services — making a difference
  • Make a good offer: it’s not just about money but also about Wales — the lifestyle, environment and quality of life
  • Stimulate supply: work with universities and colleges, skill existing employees up, make sure that those that do leave are key advocates about working for you as it helps support future recruitment. Engage at all stages in an individual’s lifecycle —graduate, entrepreneur and SME

Oliver was followed by Steve Williams, Deputy Director of Information Services and Systems at Swansea University. Steve spoke of the huge opportunity for Wales to gather momentum around the digital agenda. But he did feel there is work to be done. In terms of education, Wales needs to cover all of regions and all ages. It’s about teaching coding to children, getting older people involved and online.

Steve spoke of the need to enthuse people through digital channels and activities, for example digital humanities and digital archiving. Steve also proposed that Wales needs to invest in primary, secondary and community education. This must start with early stages as early mistakes can’t be corrected later plus core skills and information literacy are currently lacking. Steve spoke passionately about the fact that this is about a digital adventure and the opportunity for Wales to do something unique.

The discussion was then opened up to the whole group and key points covered were the need to ensure:

  • Training throughout the community, at all levels and all ages to include training and support for school teachers to keep them up-to-date
  • Employers/local industry get involved, offer internships and work experience, go into schools to talk to students and train them
  • Those in education understand the careers/opportunities available to them, where it can take them, what the jobs are
  • Wales looks to the future: with the pace of change it must educate for jobs that don’t yet exist
  • The right leadership is in place: government needs to lead by example, act like a business, be accountable and focus on what the citizen wants. The public sector needs to learn from other sectors and recruit from them as well. It needs innovative thinking about doing the job differently, not accepting the status quo, moving away from what is comfortable. Leaders that don’t understand this need to go.
  • Cultural issues are tackled, that everyone understands that digital doesn’t mean redundancies; myths need to be dispelled, it’s not elitist — it’s about opportunities and employment. It’s also about building a future for Wales so it can stand proud as a nation and take its place on the world stage.

 

Samantha Phillips is Marketing Manager at Skyscape Cloud Services

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