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Welcome to the UK Digital Skills TaskForce

Slide background We are an independent taskforce led by CEO of TeenTech and technology journalist Maggie Philbin, to highlight practical solutions to enable UK business to meet persistent skills gaps by identifying, developing and using home-grown talent. Digital skills are needed not only by our fast growing digital sector but across all industry and education. Many people with the potential to do well, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, will miss out on new opportunities without intervention.

Digital Skills for Tomorrow's World

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 04.57.11The UK Digital Skills Taskforce engages with hundreds of organisations to look at what needs to be done to nurture home-grown talent to meet the needs of Britain’s modern economy.

We gather practical suggestions so we can  understand what people working within education and industry feel needs to change, based on real-world experience.

This is our first report   Digital Skills for Tomorrow’s World

Next steps: Young Digital Taskforce 

We always welcome your feedback and suggestions for future work. Do please get in touch if you wish to share thinking and ideas.


We are currently inviting young people in Haringey to feed into the independent STEM Commission for the borough.  If you are a young person aged 10-25 or a teacher who would like your students to be involved, please get in touch . There are more details here.

There are many, many people we need to thank

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 04.03.45We have held regional round tables across the country, from Newcastle to Plymouth, Reading to Wrexham, Doncaster to Hoxton.  We asked for submissions of evidence and received over 60 from a range of businesses, educational establishments, learned societies, parents, employees, employers, academics and teachers. We also received many hundreds of additional emails. We conducted surveys for teachers and businesses, which provided us with helpful insights, especially through the comments people made. We have also used data gathered by TeenTech from asking 5500 teenagers survey questions during the many TeenTech events held across the UK.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 04.09.17We have filmed contributions so we can share the thinking first hand and create a useful resource for policy makers. This represents a considerable body of evidence, which we have made available on our YouTube channel.

The video below brings some of the thinking together but there are over 70 videos with a rich vein of suggestions for what will make a difference. The video below brings together just a fraction of the content available on our YouTube channel.

To complement the main review we also set up the Young Digital Taskforce, which brought together young people from across the UK to discuss the challenges we face and provide their feedback. Given so much of our report hopes to improve their education, it was important to involve them in the process. Their research helped us understand the perceptions young people had of careers in technology, and their ideas for what needed to change within schools are reflected in that chapter.

google pic 4The Young Digital Taskforce will be one of the legacies of the report and their work will continue.

The many fantastic people involved in this report have shared their ideas with great candour and we’ve seen a real enthusiasm everywhere we went for education and business to work much more closely together. There is much policy makers can do to facilitate this process and we hope they will take on board the suggestions made by the many individuals and organisations who contributed to this report. However, we do not need to wait until the 2015 election to start this process. Many of the ideas can be taken forward immediately.

Why it matters 

We are in the middle of a second industrial revolution.

JCW_9161-3158718638-OWe are also at a tipping point in terms of the skills required to build our economic and social livelihoods.  The UK economy is gaining traction after years of recovery from the global financial crisis.  Large companies are starting to grow and invest in both infrastructure and human talent. For many of these companies, they are beginning to realise that in order to survive, they must build their digital businesses with world-class talent which can compete globally.

At the same time, Britain has seen the emergence of an ‘entrepreneur class’ who are looking to build new businesses, many with dynamic technology platforms to support disruptive business models that directly target more traditional models established by larger companies.  Over the past few years, many of these startups have been established and are beginning to show signs of dynamic growth and vibrancy.  An increasing number of these businesses require more and more employees who have a deep understanding of digital, and the right skills to compete on a global scale.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 04.22.56Both large and small companies alike are turning towards human talent who have knowledge of software, coding and engineering skills that can help these companies to navigate effectively through this emerging technology landscape.  These companies also require leadership who understand how to manage through this digital transition.  As digital is global, the competition for talent with the best digital skills is everywhere, and those nations capable of nurturing and developing ‘home-grown’ digital talent, as well as supplementing home-grown talent with digital skills from all corners of the world, will be in a strong position to ensure that their economies will not only compete but thrive in a global economy that is rapidly evolving and ever-changing.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 04.21.44The UK has an opportunity to build a labour force equipped for a future that needs a new range of skills, which can help all kinds of organisations across the public and private sectors of the economy. Both short-term and long-term initiatives and solutions are required.  The need for these skills is immediate and will grow on an exponential scale in the coming years.  A flexible, adaptable and fully skilled workforce, spanning all generations, will ensure that Britain’s economic livelihood will continue to flourish and act as a critical pillar to ensure that the nation’s standard of living continues to rise in the coming decades.

Who are we?


Maggie Philbin


Maggie Philbin is best known as a UK technology reporter on programmes like Tomorrow’s World and now Bang Goes The Theory. Five years ago she founded TeenTech to help young people understand the real opportunities in technology and the skills needed to be part of it. At the WISE Awards in 2012 she won the Communication and Outreach category of Women of Outstanding Achievement. In the same year she received an Honorary Doctor of Technology degree from De Montfort University for “bringing a greater understanding of science and technology to the public”. In 2013 she was given the Promotion of Design Award by the Institution of Engineering Designers for her work as a broadcaster


Steering Group

Gillian Arnold, Chair, BCS Women
GAGillian has extensive experience in the IT industry and setup her own IT Services and Staffing company, Tectre in late 2009.  Tectre provides sales, technical and HR services to the IT Vendors, Distributors and Resellers and has recently been offering consulting on Energy Efficient Computing.  Tectre is currently undertaking government sponsored research into Energy Efficient Compute with the University of Huddersfield.  Tectre’s Enterprise Solutions team is now selling Mainframe,  Enterprise Linux Servers and storage to Retail, MSP, Gaming and University customers.Gillian has a long involvement with work for Women in IT, supporting both industry and academic institutions in their work on diversity.   She currently sits on the board of directors for WISE, the UK organisation which supports women in Science, Engineering, Technology, Maths and the Built Trades.  Gillian is chair of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT specialist group: BCSWomen and is driving the BCS initiatives in support of women in the Technology Sector.Gillian won the 2012 Cisco / Everywoman In Technology award for Technology Inspiration of the year.

Theo Blackwell, Councillor
_DSC1285Theo Blackwell advises on regeneration, skills, technology and creative economy policy and currently runs the Next Gen Skills campaign for video games trade body Ukie.  He is also Cabinet member for Finance for the London Borough of Camden and leads on the council’s Digital Strategy.

Dr Tom Crick, CAS Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Dr Tom Crick newDr Tom Crick is a Senior Lecturer in Computing Science at Cardiff Metropolitan University, having completed his PhD and post-doctoral research at the University of Bath. Tom is Chair in Wales of Computing At School (CAS) and sits on the Welsh Government’s National Digital Learning Council and the National Assembly for Wales Cross-Party Group on Science & Technology. He has recently co-chaired the Welsh Government’s review of the ICT curriculum and sits on the newly created UK Forum for Computing Education (UKForCE), led by the Royal Academy of Engineering.  He is a Trustee of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and sits on the Board of Directors for the Campaign for Science & Engineering, the leading independent advocate for science and engineering in the UK. He is also a Trustee of the British Science Association.


Julian David, CEO TechUK
J.David017_Julian is the CEO of techUK.  Julian was appointed as the director general of Intellect in March 2012 and led its transformation to techUK in November 2013.  techUK represents the companies and technologies that are defining today the world that we will live in tomorrow. More than 850 companies are members of techUK. Collectively they employ more than 500,000 people, about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK. Julian is also a board member of Digital Europe, the association for digital technology companies in Europe and represents techUK at WITSA, the World IT and Services Association.  Julian has spent over 30 years in the technology industry. He worked for many years at IBM, holding various positions in sales and marketing working with IBM clients across retail distribution, small and medium business and public sector organisations in the UK, Europe and worldwide. Latterly his work concentrated on helping SMEs establish successful operations in the UK primarily focused on local government and health.


Carrie Hartnell
hartnell_carrieCarrie’s passion and focus for many years has been across the technology policy landscape with a focus on the entire skills pipeline, with a special interest in women in tech. She has been involved in many Government, industry and independent schemes to increase the number of people entering the technology industry at all stages from working in schools, to working with adults looking to upskill or re-enter the tech industry.  She was a member of the working group who developed the programme of study for Computing as well as the NextGenSkills working group.  She has also run a number of women in tech working groups and has recently become an advocate for Tech London Advocates and a member of their women in tech working group.  She is also a Board member of the Enterprise Forum and is a community governor for a primary school in Hammersmith.


Bindi Karia, VP Accelerator, Silicon Valley Bank
Bindi 2014 HeadShot - FINALBindi currently leads Silicon Valley Bank’s early stage efforts in Europe as “Vice President – Accelerator” She is incredibly passionate about all things startup in Europe. Having devoted much of her career in and around the startup ecosystem, most recently as the Venture Capital/Emerging Business lead at Microsoft UK where for five years, she lead BizSpark in the UK. (now known as Microsoft Ventures) She focused on how Microsoft could drive success for early-stage technology companies as well as partnering with the UK Investor Community. She sits on many Industry Advisory Boards, and has recently been appointed a trustee for Startup Weekend Europe. She’s an active mentor and supporter of many of London’s top Incubators including Seedcamp, TechStars, Startupbootcamp, WAYRA and Level39.


Prof.  Sa’ad Medhat, New Engineering Foundation
Prof Sa'ad Medhat_ReducedProf Sa’ad Medhat is the founder & CEO of the New Engineering Foundation and the Innovation Institute. He held a number of senior leadership positions in business, education and policy. He is a Governor of Activate Learning (a group of colleges in Oxfordshire and Reading) and a Visiting Professor to UCS, as well as a member of the Scientific and Parliamentary Committee, the South East Physics Network of universities. Previously, Sa’ad held the IBM Chair in Concurrent Engineering and served on a number of committees and boards of such bodies as the Higher Education Funding Council, Foundation Degree Forward, JISC, the Government’s low carbon agenda taskforce and Bristol University’s Court, amongst others. He is a Chartered Engineer with PhD in microelectronics and has published widely and holds a number of invention patents. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow on a number of engineering, management and innovation professional bodies.


Dr Sue O’Hare, Director of Enterprise, City University London

Sue O'Hare photo

Sue O’Hare has an MA (hons) in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of Oxford. The first part of Sue’s career was in innovation and the application of emerging IT technologies, starting as a Senior Analyst and Programmer in Network Services at AT&T. Subsequently she worked at Syntegra as Technology Appraisal Manager and in the Royal Mail Research Group, where she was Head of Information Exploitation Research. Sue then moved into university enterprise, establishing the Technology Transfer Office at the University of Reading and spending two years as Associate Director (Enterprise) at London Metropolitan University before joining City University London as Director of Enterprise in March 2012. Sue is a member of the British Computer Society and the Institute of Physics, a Chartered IT Professional and Chartered Engineer, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce. She is a non-executive director of TeenTech CIC and AIRTO, a trustee of NACUE and chair of PraxisUnico, the UK’s leading representative body for knowledge and technology transfer professionals.

Shomila Malik, Head of Lab, Telefonica UK
shomila1As Head of The Lab for Telefonica UK, Shomila is accountable for technology led innovation across the UK business and leads a team responsible for creating and leading a world class innovation capability. Previous companies include IBM, Financial Times and O2 where she has delivered digital and mobile products for over 16 years. Shomila has a BEng in Electronic Engineering from University of Southampton, an MBA from Henley Management College and started her career as a software developer at IBM in 1998. She is also a startup mentor having been involved in a number of accelerator programmes in the UKs Tech City and most recently became an Advisory board member at Ensygnia, a financial services startup. In 2013 she was featured in Fabulous magazine as one of 5 ‘golden skirts’ – female powerhouses who are making huge waves in male dominated worlds.


Dr. Tim Minshall, Reader in Technology and Innovation Management, Cambridge University
thwm100Tim Minshall joined the Centre for Technology Management in October 2002. He is a member of the Board of St John’s Innovation Centre external link, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Technology, Enterprise and Competitiveness (ITEC) external link at Doshisha University external link, and a member of the IET’s Innovation and Emerging Technologies Policy Panel external link.  He is a member of advisory / steering committees for groups including ideaSpace Enterprise Accelerator external linkCambridge University Entrepreneurs external linkCambridge i-Teams external linkColworth Science Park external link and 100% Open external link. He is actively involved in outreach activities to raise awareness of engineering among primary and secondary schoolchildren.


Rajay Naik, Director, The Open University
RajayNaikjpeg newRajay Naik is Director of Government and External Affairs at The Open University – the UK’s largest University – and Chairman of UK Programmes at the Big Lottery Fund – the largest funder of charities in the UK. Rajay is also a Commissioner at the Department of Health; a Member of the National Careers Council and the UK-ASEAN Business Council. Rajay was one of five panel members on Lord Browne’s Review of Higher Education. Previously he held senior roles in Local Government at Coventry City Council; Central Government at the Cabinet Office and in the voluntary sector at the Royal Society of Arts. He is a former Chairman of the British Youth Council; Trustee of the National Youth Agency, vInspired and Changemakers Foundation; and Council Member of the Learning and Skills Council. Rajay holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from The University of Warwick.


Carrie Anne Philbin, Education Co-ordinator Raspberry Pi
CAPCarrie Anne Philbin is an award winning secondary Computing & ICT Teacher and now Education Pioneer at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the author of ‘Adventures in Raspberry Pi‘ a computing book for teenagers wanting to get started with Raspberry Pi and programming. She is the creator of a YouTube video series for teenage girls called The Geek Gurl Diaries, which has won a Talk Talk Digital Hero Award and also vice chair of the Computing At Schools initiative to get more girls and minority groups into computing. In 2012 she became a Google Certified Teacher and KS3 ICT subject Leader at a school in East London.  As an evangelist for her subject Carrie Anne often speaks at conferences like BETT,Raspberry Jamboree, YRS and PyconUK.


Anne Richards, CIO Aberdeen Asset Management
ANNE RICHARDSAnne is the Chief Investment Officer and head of the EMEA region for Aberdeen Asset Management, where she is also a main board director.  She began her career as a research fellow at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, moving into the investment world in 1992.  Her career has included research analysis, portfolio management and global asset allocation, and includes time with JP Morgan and Mercury Asset Management, later MLIM.  In 2002 she joined the main board of Edinburgh Fund Managers plc as Chief Investment Officer and Joint Managing Director. She continued in her role as global Chief Investment Officer for the combined entity when EFM was taken over by Aberdeen Asset Management in 2003. Anne graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh, and also holds an MBA from INSEAD, Fontainbleau, France.  She is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, and holds a Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance (ACCA).  She is a FN100 Women in Finance, Funds Awards Europe European Chief Investment Officer 2012 and a member of the Board of Leaders of 2020 Women on Boards, a US organisation dedicated to increasing the proportion of women on corporate boards. Anne also holds a number of non executive positions, including the insurance company eSure, the University of Edinburgh, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Duchy of Lancaster.

Russ Shaw, Tech London Advocates, tech City Advisory Group
Russ is an angel and venture investor and non-executive director of a number of high growth businesses including Dialog―a publicly traded semiconductor company, AIM listed Cupid plc and Unwire–a Danish, venture-backed mobile commerce business. He is also a limited partner in Ariadne Capital’s ACE Fund and an investor in and advisor to Amazing Media Group. Russ is also a board member of the Tech City Advisory Group.Previously, Russ was the Chairman of the Marketing Group of Great Britain and was Vice President & General Manager at Skype with responsibility for its mobile division globally, responsible for Skype’s mobile apps as well as carrier and OEM relationships; he also had geographic responsibility for Europe, Middle East & Africa. Russ exited when Skype was sold to Microsoft.Before Skype, Russ was at Telefonica, where he was the Global Innovation Director. This included managing a venture fund and an internal ‘incubation’ initiative. Prior to this role, he was with Telefonica’s O2 mobile business, as Marketing Director, responsible for initiatives such as The O2 venue in London.

Dr Peter Skyte, Unite
Network Rail image 2012Peter Skyte was until January 2011 National Officer of Unite, the largest union in the UK and Ireland. He had responsibility for the IT and Communications Sector in the union, covering the union’s membership in 1400 workplaces including IT companies such as Accenture, CSC, Fujitsu, HP, IBM and TCS: telecoms manufacturing and service companies such as Ericsson, Nortel and Panasonic; and the British broadcasters BBC and ITV. He was also Vice-President of the ICTS Sector of UNI-Europa, the European section of the international labour organisation Union Network International representing professional, commercial and clerical workers worldwide, which brings together unions covering IT and communications across Europe. Peter Skyte served on a number of UK Home Office committees advising government departments on work permits policy for the IT, Communications and Electronics sectors, and also served on the UK Electronics Leadership Council. He was also involved with the European Commission on European IT and Communications sector issues such as e-skills and as a member of the EU Consultative Committee on Industrial Change Currently he is a member and member coordinator of Network Rail, responsible for holding the Board to account, and deals with complaints against the judiciary as a member of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office review panel. He also serves as a volunteer adviser at Citizens’ Advice. His interests include 2 children, food and wine, travel, and supporting long-term causes as a Leeds United supporter.

Professor Alan Woodward
image001Having studied physics Alan moved to research in signal  processing in his post graduate research.  This is where he developed a deep interest in computers. After University Alan initially worked for the UK Government before working as a senior manager and director of a series of IT businesses, one of which he helped start right through to floating it on the London Stock Exchange in 2000.  Throughout his business career Alan remained hands on with emerging technologies and his work saw him elected as a fellow of various institutions including the British Computer Society,  Institute of Physics and Royal Statistical Society.  In 2008 he renewed his interest in academia joining the Industrial Advisory Board and then a Visiting Professor for the Department of Computing at the University of Surrey.

Project support

Wes Streeting
Tom Bailey
Patrick McVeigh, TeenTech
Anna Sheard, Project Manager, TeenTech
Rose Chegwin, BMC Software
Nik Butler,
Roland Allen, Director, TeenTech



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