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‘Future Facing’ – Winner of The LDC Top 50 award for Innovation 2021 features in The Times

5 Apr 2022

In today’s issue of The Times (Tuesday 5th April), Praveen Karadiguddi, Founder and CEO of Scrumconnect, whose software consultancy helps digitise everything from benefits to criminal justice, explains how plugging the digital skills gap will save Britain billions of pounds each year.

Better technology can give people life-changing experiences. Robots are now involved in surgery; artificial intelligence can predict whether patients will suffer kidney failure; and my software consultancy, Scrumconnect, is working with the government, digitising the criminal justice system. We’ve already played a part in digitising HM Passport Office and the Department for Work and Pensions. It’s so easy to order a pizza delivery via an app, so why can’t people access their disability allowance that way too?

Innovations like cloud, data science and AI are creating a wealth of change and opportunity, but it can’t happen with automation alone. These technologies still require people with the right digital skills. A typical start-up, for example, will need staff adept at digital marketing, digital sales, user experience, research and cyber security. And that’s just the start.

Back in 2019, however, CBI research found the UK’s digital skills gap to be so severe it would cost our economy around £63 billion a year in lost income. Over two thirds of companies had unfilled digital vacancies. A CBI report in 2020 found that a staggering nine in ten employees would have to reskill by 2030. Given the Covid pandemic has sparked a widespread shift to online or hybrid working since then, these issues are likely to have increased.

To solve the problem, lots of companies are creating new methods of onboarding, recruiting and upskilling interns, as well as finding fresh talent at universities and training them in the specific digital skills they need. I’m seeing more companies communicating with each other to share best practice, though more could be done to support women back into digital roles after maternity leave, for example.

These are great steps, but still only solve the problem in pockets. The government could have a huge role to play in a more consolidated approach, by offering financial support to companies to provide digital skills training. Meanwhile, the private and public sectors could collaborate on special academies dedicated to addressing the skills gap.

Such institutions would enable people coming out of education, and those already in work, to get paid to learn – while also serving as a shop window for companies looking to hire people with the digital skills their workplace now demands.

I launched Scrumconnect in 2009, with a mission to harness software, technology and talent to help clients deliver outstanding user-centric services. Today, it turns over around £25 million a year.

Since I won The LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Leaders Award for Innovation in 2021, more people have been contacting us directly, asking us to help them on their journey. It has also introduced us to a network of new peers to exchange ideas.

The UK has to remain competitive. It has to maintain its reputation as an innovative country. And it has to solve its unemployment issue. Plugging the digital skills gap will help with all of the above. I am optimistic we can do it – as long as we create the platforms and networks we need to share that knowledge.

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Since I won The LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Leaders Award for Innovation in 2021, more people have been contacting us directly, asking us to help them on their journey. It has also introduced us to a network of new peers to exchange ideas.”
Praveen Karadiguddi, Founder and CEO
Scrumconnect

Praveen Karadiguddi’s drive to deliver great digital experiences helped him to become a Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leader in 2021. Could you be next?

For the chance to feature as one of this year’s Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders, find out more here.