About 21st Century Skills Group


To help create and implement UK/EU education and training policies for a world in which demand for basic digital abilities, aptitudes and disciplines may still change slowly, if at all, but the rate of change in the need for specific skills is accelerating.  In consequence employer demand may emerge and die before conventional planning cycles can respond.  Moreover the mixes of skills in demand increasingly cross sector, professional and academic boundaries: thus further complicating the more flexible consultation, planning and funding processes needed.

Next Events

Meetings have been scheduled to plan the following:

  • Round Table on creating an effective Employer “Chorus”;
  • Ideas Day on using the NEN to convey STEM and Cyber careers materials to schools;
  • East of England Skills Partnership;
  • Chichester STEM Partnership;
  • Quarter 4 Plymouth Review.

Parliamentary Chair: Lord Lucas
Industry Chairs: Ken Gaines (City & Guilds), Michael Dieroff (Bluescreen IT)


  • To support local, national and international skills partnerships to build support for practical co-operation across political, organisational, academic, professional, trade, national, regional and local public and private sector boundaries.
  • To use the engagement of politicians (local and national) to help drive for demonstrable results in realistic timescales, publicise those results and enable consensus on future policies to be built around what has been shown to work.
  • To give priority to exercises which demonstrate that it can be more beneficial for employers to retrain existing staff or recruit trainees than to compete for experienced staff with the mixes of skills in current shortage (quality as well as quantity) around the world.
  • To focus on specific issues and/or skills gaps where there is support for pilots to develop and test processes for bringing together employers and politicians to meet local needs: from schools programs and careers advice, through pre- and post- graduate apprenticeships to workforce updating, continuous professional development and returner programmes.

Work Programme

  • Test employer support for political action, as necessary, to bridge the gap between the government funded programmes and the trade association, professional and vendor certifications more commonly required by employers.
  • Test support for local and regional pilots and pan-London exercises.
  • Test support for cross-cutting cyber-security partnerships to make national pilot programmes available locally, with the training materials, delivery and mentoring support necessary.
  • Identify potential partners/hosts for information services/websites to make it easier for employers and careers advisors to identify who can help them meet their needs and those of the audiences they serve.


  • Political action has been complicated by the decision that Government and its funding agencies will deal direct with employers instead of via the Sector Skills councils set up to co-ordinate and channel their inputs. We have yet to decide how best to obtain and convey to MPs and Ministers the views of employers, as opposed to the intermediaries to whom they have commonly delegated that role.
  • The first local digital skills partnership is based in Plymouth, focussed on Cybersecurity with a shared  incubator on the University Science park. IAAC is organising a different form of partnership across the North West. Discussions have begun regarding a Big Data and IoT Skills partnership across East Anglia (including Cambridge) and a STEM Skills Partnership across the Chichester - Portsmouth Area. Pan-London co-operation has yet to be agreed.
  • BCS, CISCO, CompTIA, IET and ISC2 are among the DPA members who have agreed to make materials available to local schools to a Plymouth pilot, using the CREST/Inspired Careers framework to make careers guidance available to schools via the local Grid for Learning.
  • An ideas day is planned with the National Education Network (whose members, linked via JISC/Janet provide online connectivity/content/support to 60% of schools) to discuss employer-funded processes for carrying local, national and international cyber, digital and STEM careers materials across the UK.
  • None of these programmes involve bids for public funding, save from central and local as an employer seeking to attract and harness talent to meet its own needs. All depend on recruiting employers, training providers and relevant professional bodies and trade associations to help cover the organisational overheads.

Meeting Reports, Publications and Other Documents

Past Events