Government report outlines scale of digital skills gap – apprenticeships offer a solution


A report published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has identified that there are currently between 178,000 and 234,000 ‘hard data’ roles that need filling across the UK.

The report, published on 18th May 2021, was based upon UK-wide research carried out by Opinium. Opinium contacted 1,045 businesses, 5,000 workers and 1,000 students to gain their views.

The research found that 48% of business are recruiting for data roles but 46% have struggled to fill similar roles over the past 2 years. Moreover, this skills gap is likely to grow as the supply of potential data scientists is unlikely to exceed more that 10,000 per year (a number based upon graduates from UK universities for 2017/18).

As such, upskilling existing staff is likely to play a vital role in addressing the growing digital skills gap and there is good news on this front – 70% of the workers who took part in this research expressed an interest in receiving data skills training.

Increasingly, apprenticeships are proving to be the training of choice for employers looking to develop their digital capabilities. These high-quality programmes offer on the job training across a whole range of areas and at a variety of levels. Moreover, there is funding available to help employers take advantage of these schemes – larger employers can cover cost through their apprenticeship levy, while smaller employers can access government support.

The University of Gloucestershire is currently offering a number of degree apprenticeships, helping employers to access a wide range of digital skills. Apprenticeships starting in September 2021 include:

  • Data Scientist Degree Apprenticeship
  • Cyber Security Degree Apprenticeship
  • Digital Technology Solutions Provider Degree Apprenticeship (with specialist pathways available is data analysis, software engineering and network engineering)
  • Digital Marketer Degree Apprenticeships

All these programmes take approximately 3 years to complete, with learners achieving a degree from the University of Gloucestershire upon successful completion. Organisations can use these programmes to provide high-level skills and qualifications to new career entrants, or to upskill their existing staff.

Specific entry requirements are agreed with employers but learners should have level 2 qualifications in maths and English (GCSE at grade C / 4 or above, or equivalent). Apprentices must also be in full-time employment (e.g. employed for at least 30 hours per week) in a relevant job role.

To find out more about these apprenticeship programmes, visit You can also contact the University of Gloucestershire apprenticeships team at

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