A new study by Telefónica O2 predicts that existing government digital economy initiatives will generate economic output worth £7 billion by 2017; however, in order for this to be realised, an additional 750,000 digitally skilled workers will be needed.

Telefónica UK’s chief executive, Ronan Dunne, said that digital promises sustained economic recovery, but only “if we become a nation of digitally confident businesses with a digitally literate workforce.”

Mr Dunne referred to the UK’s young people as digital natives who have already acquired valuable digital skills, but also warned that “not enough is being done to harness them”. O2 was playing its part, he added, by hosting events such as the massive Campus Party Europe tech festival, which is one of the largest showcases for digital careers of its kind in the world.

Mr Dunne believes, however, that businesses urgently need to collaborate in order to harness the next generation’s potential for maximising digital growth.

Given that 750,000 new digitally skilled staff will be required in the space of four years, a more immediate remedy will clearly also be necessary. The director of the university alliances programme at SAP UK and Ireland, Martin Gollogly, said: “The news that Britain will need an additional 750,000 digital workers by 2017 should come as no surprise. The IT skills gap has been widely discussed in the industry but it is time to stop talking and start acting if the UK is to take advantage of this economic opportunity.”

An implication is that businesses may need to turn to the digital talent pool existing amongst the UK’s professional contracting community; digitally savvy Umbrella Company Employees look set for a busy and lucrative few years.

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