More than half (54%) of UK pupils aged 16-18 believe the COVID-19 pandemic caused greater disruption to their employable skills-based learning – such as data analysis and communication skills – than to their learning of academic subjects, leaving them less prepared to enter the workforce, according to a new survey from Tableau, the world’s leading analytics platform (NYSE: CRM).
The nationwide research, which explored the impact of lockdown on the education of pupils in years’ 10-13, also found that less than half (47%) of students feel that their school education has prepared them for the world of work, while almost two fifths (38%) are unaware of the key skills sought after by employers.
A Royal Society report during lockdown suggested that school time lost because of the pandemic could harm the UK economy for the next 65 years due to its negative impact on the future skills of the workforce.
Discussing the results in relation to the UK’s data skills gap, Professor Pat Tissington, Academic Director of Employability and Skills at University of Warwick said: “To speed up the UK’s economic recovery, it is vital that educational institutions prepare pupils for the world of work and give greater focus to the skills that are becoming increasingly important for employers, such as data analysis.
“Data skills are relevant for a wide range of roles, yet the research from Tableau shows that almost half (47%) of students find the concept of data analysis a little scary. This precedes the pandemic; in the last two years almost half (46%) of UK businesses have struggled to recruit for roles that require data skills. More needs to be done to equip pupils with the digital skills they need in the workplace if the UK is to avoid a huge data skills gap.”
For UK employers, the need for digital skills has spread far beyond traditional IT job roles, with two in three (68%) job postings outside the technology sector seeking data-literate candidates and many lower-skilled roles demanding basic data literacy skills.
Meanwhile the lack of data-driven skills could have a severe impact on the UK economy – costing as much as £2billion annually.
Commenting on the results of the survey, Dan Pell, General Manager and Senior Vice President for EMEA at Tableau commented: “Although lockdown disrupted skills learning, we know that there was already a problem with data skills education. This seriously limits career opportunities for young people right across the country, and those who aren’t able to demonstrate data skills will be at the back of the jobs queue.
“We’re not just talking about skills for jobs in the tech industry here; we’re talking about skills used daily in almost every job – the confidence to handle and understand data. Building back better is a unique opportunity for a resetting of priorities when it comes to ensuring our children are best prepared for life beyond school.”
As well as feeling unprepared for work, the study also found that 80% of pupils would like schools to work more closely with businesses to make education more relevant to employers.
Dan Pell added: “At Tableau, we know it’s not just the responsibility of schools and colleges to teach pupils the digital skills they need – but future employers too. For this reason, we have free data literacy e-learning courses for young people and adults, to help anyone learn the foundational data skills they need for the ever-evolving digital requirements of employers.”