A consortium of more than 60 universities, companies and industry bodies has come together to create the Institute of Coding, a new UK project backed by £20m of government funding.
The consortium includes tech companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Cisco, alongside 25 universities, as well as professional bodies such as the British Computer Society and CREST (Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats).
Led by Bath University, its aim will be to address the digital skills gap in the UK, a key part of the government’s Industrial Strategy. The £20m investment will be matched by a further £20m from industry, including in-kind contributions such as training and equipment.
“The strength of the Institute of Coding lies in the fact that it brings together educators, employers and outreach groups to co-develop digital skills education at undergraduate and masters level for learners in universities, at work and in previously under-supported groups across the country,” said Institute director, Dr Rachid Hourizi.
“In addition, we’ll work with our partners to target underrepresented talent through outreach activities, tailored and inclusive curricula, flexible delivery and removal of barriers to working in the industry.”
The universities involved bring a variety of expertise, from sector leaders in business and computer science (UCL and Newcastle University) to experts in arts and design (University of the Arts) to specialists in widening participation and outreach (Open University and Birkbeck, University of London). According to the Department for Education, the Institute of Coding will be based around five core themes:
- University learners (led by the Open University) – To boost graduate employability through a new industry standard targeted at degree level qualifications. IoC programmes will incorporate learning which solves real-world business problems and develops business, technical and interpersonal skills in equal measure.
- The digital workforce (led by Aston University) – To develop specialist skills training in areas of strategic importance.
- Digitalising the professions (led by Coventry University) – To transform professions undergoing digital transformation (e.g. helping learners retrain via new digital training programmes provided through online and face-to-face learning)
- Widening participation (led by Queen Mary University of London) – To boost equality and diversity in technology-related education and careers (e.g. tailored workshops, bootcamps, innovative learning facilities and other outreach activities). In 2017, female programmers and software developers made up just 3.9 per cent of tech and telco professionals in the UK.
- Knowledge sharing and sustainability (led by Bath University) – To share outcomes and good practice, ensuring long-term sustainability of the IoC. This will include building up an evidence base of research, analysis and intelligence to anticipate future skills gaps.
“A world-class pipeline of digital skills is essential to the UK’s ability to shape our future,” said Universities Minister Sam Gyimah. “By working together, universities, employers and industry leaders can help graduates build the right skills, in fields from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to industrial design.”
“The Institute of Coding will play a central role in this. Employers will have a tangible input to the curriculum, working hand-in-hand with universities to develop specialist skills in areas where they are needed most. As we have outlined in the Industrial Strategy, this is part of our ambition to embrace technological change and give us a more competitive edge in the future.”