The Digital Economy and Society Index was published yesterday and it makes for an uncomfortable reading for some European countries, and even more so for the UK. The IT Pro headline says it all: UK ‘lags behind’ Europe in digital performance.

I spoke to Alex Smith-Bingham, Capgemini UK’s Head of Digital, to get his thoughts on this issue:

Alex Smith-Bingham“Whilst it’s encouraging to see that the 2016 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) shows some improvement in the digital transformation in Europe, it is worrying that progress is slowing. This is especially true in the UK where we are categorised as ‘lagging ahead’. That is, still above the average in Europe, but growing more slowly than the rest of the EU. The DESI also showed that the UK has a high rate of internet use and digital skills have increased substantially. However, this is not translating into young people entering the ICT workforce with evidence that STEM graduate numbers are significantly below those of a decade ago.

“Our digital economy is growing rapidly and we simply do not have the supply of the right digital skills to meet demand. This is reflected in our recent research amongst employers which found that while young people are increasingly digitally savvy, these skills are not being translated in the workplace. And this is impacting on Britain’s ability to compete on a global stage. The DESI aims to show where countries should turn their focus in terms of digital investment and it’s clear that we need to prioritise digital skills. But it’s not just up to the government, businesses must also make investments in building a digital workforce for the future, whether that’s through graduate recruitment schemes, apprenticeship schemes or reaching young people throughout their early schooling.”

The #digitalskills research mentioned by Alex was developed as part of a Digital Partnership with The Prince’s Trust, which will see Capgemini deliver a series of programmes teaching 600 disadvantaged young people in the UK the skills necessary to develop a career in today’s digital economy.

Join the conversation via #digitalskills.