A little more recent…
In 2009, a Jisc report described how literacy practices were changing, from ink and paper to a screen based medium where writing had changed and the use of images and video were increasingly being used to access and communicate information. The ability to use and navigate these new tools had to be developed within learners or they would fail to reach their potential and progress to being the kind of highly skilled worker required by the UK’s economy in a changing global workplace and find themselves experiencing difficulties in participating in lifelong learning via digital means of their own choosing.
The 2009 report found that because there was no clear ownership within institutions, learning and digital literacies were rarely the focus of integrated institutional strategies. Educational institutions needed to assess whether they were adequately meeting the needs of learners in regards to how these capabilities were valued, taught and assessed and ensure that digital literacy was receiving sufficient time and investment.
The report set out some possible recommendations such as institutions addressing learning in the digital age directly in tandem with ensuring that infrastructure and policy reflected this required change in institutional culture. It laid out how a digital literacies champion could be chosen to lead change and recommended ‘collaboration and engagement of management, central services and academic departments and aims to embed academic information and digital literacy skills in learning and teaching.
If you Google ‘digital literacy report UK’, you’ll get a list or results from 2013, 2016, and 2016 on the front page alone which, from their titles, might indicate that we didn’t do so well or at least, there’s still work to be done.
This is particularly the case, wrote Wired in 2015, due to the fact that ‘35 percent of jobs in the UK are at risk of automation over the next 20 years… and a significant digital skills shortage in the current curriculum means that the future workforce will be unprepared to work in this environment.’ This was based on a House of Lords report which also detailed amongst other findings that, ‘There is a shortage of medium- and high-level digital skills in the UK. This needs immediate attention if the UK is to remain competitive globally. To keep ahead of the international competition, the UK must ensure it has the necessary pool of digitally-skilled graduates and others at the higher level (the ‘digital makers’), to support and drive research and innovation throughout the whole economy.’ This, I’m sure you’d agree, appears very similar to that which Jisc discussed over half a decade earlier.
The House of Lords Digital skills crisis report of 2016, read
…there is a digital divide where up to 12.6 million of the adult UK population lack basic digital skills. An estimated 5.8 million people have never used the internet at all….costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP. The skills gap presents itself at all stages in the education and training pipeline, from schools to the workplace.
This issue was already apparent in the UK where the domestic shortages of digital workers were resulting in start-ups and SMEs missing out on potential business. Larger tech companies had the global reach to recruit skilled workers globally. With 16% of that talent coming from outside the EU, it was believed that smaller firms were limited by current immigration policies. Consequently, some of the recommendations for higher education included institutions working with industry to align courses to employer requirements.