All posts by Surita Solanki

Action needed on digital skills crisis says Committee

The Science and Technology Committee publishes a report warning that the UK risks being left behind if the Government does not take more action to address the digital skills crisis.

Report findings
12.6 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills; 5.8 million people have never used the internet; only 35% of computer teachers in schools have a relevant degree and 30% of the required number of computer science teachers have not been recruited; and 13% of computer graduates are still unemployed 6 months after leaving university. This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy £63 billion a year in lost GDP.

The gap between digital skills possessed and digital skills needed demonstrates a long-running weakness in the UK’s approach to this crisis. The Committee is calling for:

  • Digital skills to be made one of the core components in all apprenticeships, not just ‘digital apprenticeships’.
    Industry led vocationally-focused digital careers advice in universities.
  • Universities to provide ‘code conversion courses’ to help graduates from non-computer science backgrounds enter the tech sector.
  • After introducing the much needed computer curriculum in schools, the Government to establish a forum for employers to feedback on the continuing development of the curriculum, and Ofsted to include it in its school inspections.
  • A review of the qualifying requirements for ‘shortage occupation’ IT jobs under ‘Tier 2 visas’, to allow SMEs to get critical digital skills from abroad.
  • Apprenticeship scheme processes to be simplified to allow SMEs to participate more easily.

Chair’s comments
Science and Technology Committee Chair, Nicola Blackwood MP said:
“The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow’s workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need.The Government deserves credit for action taken so far but it needs to go much further and faster. We need action on visas, vocational training and putting digital skills at the heart of modern apprenticeships.

The Government’s long-delayed Digital Strategy must now be published without delay, and it must deliver. The Government has introduce a range of measures to help, particularly by expanding the scale of the apprenticeship programme and introducing a new computer curriculum in schools, but it needs urgently to present a vision and coherent strategy that brings these together.”

Digital strategy

The MPs question why the Government has taken so long to produce the long-promised ‘Digital Strategy’ and call for it to be published without further delay. The Committee warns that the Strategy needs to go further than merely listing cross-government digital activity, but present a vision for the future delivered by collaborative work from all involved—industry, educators and Government.

Download the report here

Digital Birmingham have been nominated for a #DL100 Award!

We are pleased to announce that Digital Birmingham have been included in this years Digital Leaders 100 listing and nominated for an award in the ‘Digital Council of the Year’ category for Birmingham City Council!

2016 Finalist Logo

It’s wonderful to be recognised for the teams continuous hard work in the areas of digital and smart and its lead in piloting and exploiting digital technologies to work towards developing an inclusive, sustainable & green economy.

Show your support by voting for us here – voting closes on Friday 27 May 2016!




Birmingham listed in top 3 of UK smart cities!

A Smart Cities Index Report – the first of its kind – commissioned and released earlier this week by Huawei UK has listed Birmingham as the 3rd smartest city in Britain ahead of the likes of Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds!

To be listed as a ‘contender’ in this report goes to show that the collaborative work we have undertaken with Birmingham’s Smart City Commission and with partners since the launch of the Birmingham Smart City Vision statement in 2013 has come a long way and it’s a great boost to be given this recognition on a national scale! Particular highlights in the report include the work being established around the East Birmingham Demonstrator and forthcoming HS2 related activities.

Further details and the full report can be found at

BIS issues call for evidence for business broadband

This Call for Evidence aims to learn more about the fixed broadband needs of British businesses, both now and in the future.

In February 2016, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills announced a joint Review into Business Broadband by the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport and Business, Innovation and Skills, to explore the barriers facing businesses in accessing affordable superfast broadband. The announcement set out that the Review would look at:

  1. The broadband speeds that businesses need now and in the future;
  2. The barriers that exist for businesses to get the affordable, high speed broadband they need; and
  3. The issue of leased lines and the role they play in the market.

The aim of this Call for Evidence is to learn more about the fixed broadband needs of British businesses, both now and in the future. The connectivity needs of businesses will inevitably vary greatly depending on the size of business, their pattern of internet usage,
and the sector they are in, and as such, it is important that the Review and any resulting action properly reflects these differences.

Please provide responses to Responses to this call for evidence should be limited to 3,000 words in total and responses must be received by 3rd June 2016.

For more information, please visit

Ofcom reveals UK is now a ‘smartphone’ society!

Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online, Ofcom research has revealed, with record ownership and use transforming the way we communicate.

Two thirds of people now own a smartphone, using it for nearly two hours every day to browse the internet, access social media, bank and shop online.

Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report finds that a third (33%) of internet users see their smartphone as the most important device for going online, compared to 30% who are still sticking with their laptop. More…

Wildlife Conservation Park reaps wireless benefits!

Staff at the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park are being helped to carry out their daily tasks by Wi-Fi installed as a part of a city-wide scheme, the Wireless in Public Buildings Project, led by Digital Birmingham. See this short video from the launch

For connected buildings near you, please visit

Google’s Digital Garage opens in Library of Birmingham

Google Garage

Google’s new Digital Garage in the Library of Birmingham to be growth engine for local business

  • Google’s pop-up ‘garage’ opens in Birmingham, one of five UK city centres
  • New research shows over half (51%) of small businesses say young people are not learning enough digital skills and nearly a third (29%) feel the cost of training is putting them off getting the basic digital skills they need
  • 200,000 businesses to get a digital ‘tune-up’ and free digital masterclasses from Google and partners
  • Google will nurture future digital talent by organising coding training sessions for 25,000 teachers

Google has today launched The Digital Garage at Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square. The Digital Garage is a multi-million pound initiative that will help 200,000 British businesses learn crucial skills for the digital age, and use the power of the internet to reach more customers and increase productivity.

The Digital Garage  Continue reading Google’s Digital Garage opens in Library of Birmingham

‘What data would you like to see open?’ asks Bham City Council

Birmingham Speaks LogoAs part of Birmingham City Council’s ongoing commitment to open data and to make it available via the Birmingham Open Data Factory – they have issued a call to gather the public’s thoughts and suggestions on types of data they would like the council to make available. This could be data the council currently holds but not yet published openly or data they would like to see ‘open’ in the future.

Note suggestions and join in the conversations here

Digital Summer School – 24 and 25 June

Digital Academy Summer School

Businesses across the West Midlands are being urged to sign up for a free two-day ‘Summer School’ to help them embrace the opportunities offered by digital technology.

Delegates will be able to attend a series of hands-on workshops around the themes of Data, Marketing and Growth with industry experts from some of the biggest names in the sector on hand to help them overcome their technology challenges.

The event, which takes place at Fazeley Studios and the Custard Factory in Digbeth on June 24 and 25, is open to SMEs from across the West Midlands who trade with other businesses and delegates who complete the two days will receive a Graduate Certificate’ from the Greater Birmingham Digital Academy.

The Greater Birmingham Digital Academy and Summer School are supported by the Greater Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership and the ERDF.

To register for the event go to