Post by Suzanne McQuade, The Open University
By ldunn | 22 Feb 2022
Demand for digital skills is very strong in Scotland and it shows no signs of calming down. Public and third sector employers all need digital skills, but they are struggling to find available talent and have done so for some time.
It’s the same across all of the UK – demand for business-critical digital skills is outstripping supply. Shortages are particularly pronounced in certain key areas – software development, cyber security, coding and data management, for example. In order to address the problem, increasing numbers of employers are taking a proactive approach to skills development, boosting internal talent pipelines through a range of learning interventions. And many of them are turning to institutions such as the OU in Scotland and the Scottish Digital Academy for help.
The OU in Scotland (OUiS) recently joined forces with the Scottish Digital Academy to help employers with their upskilling and reskilling initiatives. The Scottish Digital Academy does a lot of work developing digital skills, leadership and talent in the public and third sectors in Scotland. The collaboration with OUiS builds on that work. The OU in Scotland offers an extensive range of digital courses delivered online, such as:
- Cisco: Python programming (OpenEDG) microcredential. Designed by experts from the OU’s award-winning Cisco ‘NetAcad’, the largest Cisco Academy in the UK, this microcredential enables individuals to gain a solid understanding of the Python programming language as well as gaining hands-on experience and practical skills without the need for prior experience.
- Technology and innovation management postgraduate module. This module explores innovation from a management perspective, and thus enables individuals to develop their contribution to the process and management of technological innovation.
- AWS: Machine learning foundations microcredential, developed by the OU in conjunction with the AWS Academy (Amazon Web Services). This microcredential introduces individuals to the concepts, terminology, and processes of machine learning so that they gain a comprehensive understanding and is ideal for beginners.
There are a number of funding opportunities available to individuals including the SAAS part-time fee grant, National Transition Training Fund, and Upskilling Fund. And for employers there is the Flexible Workforce Development Fund and the OU’s Graduate Apprenticeships in cyber security.
The OU in Scotland already works with 260+ employers, helping them with their workforce planning and skills development. We use our understanding of the national skills landscape, industry needs and employees’ needs to provide high quality, targeted workforce development solutions. We think it’s really important that industry and academia work closely together in order to build the skills needed now and in the future.
The OU is the most popular university in Scotland for part-time higher education. Shorter courses, such as the microcredentials, enable people to complete bite-sized chunks of learning and build up qualifications over time. OpenLearn, our free informal learning platform, has had over 100 million visitors, with unprecedented numbers of learners accessing the wide range of courses during the pandemic. We also offer undergraduate and postgraduate modules and qualifications. It’s really important that employers and employees can access different learning pathways according to individual needs and the OU’s short courses offered through Scottish Government initiatives benefit the national economy, which is why collaborations such as the one between the OU in Scotland and the Scottish Digital Academy, are so important.
It's essential that the public sector works in partnership with academia when developing digital skills in Scotland.
Lee Dunn, Head of the Scottish Digital Academy