Calls for a new Welsh economy “forged in the white heat” of digital skills

(Title Image: BBC Wales)

Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East) used his short debate to repeat calls for Wales to make the most of digital skills.

According to a Barclays index, Welsh workers have some of lowest ratings for their digital skills in the UK and these lack of skills were become a deterrent to their earning potential, with employers often paying a premium for workers with key digital skills such as word processing, data analysis and social media.

The problems were also acute in schools and in careers advice:

“We need a coherent and long-term commitment from the Welsh Government for ‘digital Wales’, from skills to infrastructure. However, Estyn says pupils’ progress in digital skills has not kept pace with technology. They claim opportunities to develop ICT skills across subjects are limited in many secondary schools and in a third of primary schools. In just under two-thirds of primary schools, there are important shortcomings in standards of ICT.”
– Mohammad Asghar AM

Replying on behalf of the government, Deputy Minister for Economy & Transport, Lee Waters (Lab, Llanelli) – who recently chaired an expert panel on digital in the public sector – said he was a strong advocate for making sure Wales can keep pace with technological change and was well aware of the risks and potential associated with automation.

He called for employers to do their part to prepare their employees for these changes:

“Now, it’s fair to say that employer investment and engagement in training remains a challenge for Wales as it does in other parts of the UK. Government cannot be the sole financier of post-compulsory education and training, and you’ll need to create a system that incentivises employers to invest alongside the support made available via Government. We need to commit to genuine lifelong learning….”
– Deputy Minister for Economy & Transport, Lee Waters

The Welsh Government have announced a number of policy changes to future-proof the workforce, including a new employability plan, widening apprenticeship opportunities and schemes to help tech start-ups such as Be The Spark.