During 2020 I have been putting my weight behind the Institute of Coding, who are coordinating efforts for improving education for AI and the digital future. Here’s my letter to the Minister of State regarding future funding.
Michelle Donelan MP
Minister of State for Universities
Department for Education
The Institute of Coding (IoC) is a Key Part of Britain’s Digital Future.
By way of background, I am a published international author on AI and technology, and previously an Executive of a major tech company with worldwide responsibilities. My published books* focus on the need for learning and development to prepare us for the oncoming digital revolution.
During the past year I have become associated with, and directly supported the Institute of Coding (IoC), which has been especially active in this area.
We are fortunate to have seen rapid growth of the UK digital sector but laying the foundations for this does not occur overnight. It is essential that there are effectively planned strategies to:
- Support development at a personal level
- Help individual regions and specific critical business areas, such as healthcare
- Assist the country recover in a post-pandemic era.
One key barrier to investment and growth in the UK is that of a national shortage of digital skills. This is not a new issue but those shortages have been made worse by the impact of the pandemic.
Many public and private organisations are beginning to take advantage of the pandemic hiatus to start to move to digital models but will struggle due to the lack of national resource. At the heart of this problem is a lack of adequate education and training at an appropriate scale. Poaching of skilled individuals is already happening from one sector to another (for example, from retail to the finance sector) and whilst this meets an immediate need, it does not provide a long term sustainable solution.
The IoC ends its current funded period on 31st March 2021, and I am specifically asking that you make provision for the IoC in your plans and budget.
Without budget provision, the great work that has been done by the IoC so far is at risk of losing momentum, and future national opportunities will be missed. Already the IoC has cleared major barriers and delivered collaboration between 35 universities and 200+ employers and outreach organisations, to create modular courses and events, enrolling more than 675,000 learners to date.
I fully support and endorse their approach which is to help deliver university courses with a high degree of flexibility. These courses will not only improve our national digital capability but especially offer new opportunities to underrepresented and disadvantaged groups.
At an individual level, I am keen to support both them and you at the Department of Education to help this important mission, which is to continue to build the UK in a way that is sustainable, inclusive, and in a digitally-driven way that encourages economic growth.
The Institute of Coding needs your help, support and funding so that it can help provide the digital skills required by individuals and organisations alike, and provide a much-needed focus to this very important area. I hope we can count on you to support this very important initiative.
Tony Boobier FICE CEng
* ‘AI and the Future of Banking’ (Wiley, 2020);
‘Advanced Analytics and AI: Impact, Implementation, and the Future of Work’ (Wiley 2018) ;
‘Analytics for Insurance: The Real Business of Big Data (Wiley 2020) ’