UK Department for Education case study:  Tackling the UK’s digital skills gap

Case Study3 min read

September 14, 2023


In the current landscape, there is a considerable disparity between the skillsets working adults have and the skills employers need. Despite accelerated digitalization, a clear digital skills gap persists in UK organizations. A study has shown that 82% of UK jobs already require digital skills. 1 More than two third of UK leaders say their organization is facing a digital skill gap and 59% of employees believe developing their digital skills will be important to their employability.2 It is imperative to address and bridge this digital skills gap in the UK, in particular minority communities that often lack of access to technology, training and opportunities. 3


In 2022, 2U Inc., the parent company of edX, formed a partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department for Education (DfE) with the goal of funding 1,200 seats in a fully online Skills Bootcamp in front-end web development. This initiative is part of DfE’s Skills for Life program, which is committed to fostering lifelong learning and enhancing skills development. To support this endeavor, the DfE has committed up to £4.8 million for this multiple year endeavor, aimed at equipping UK residents with the essential skills necessary for success at any age or stage of their career journey.

Similar to the partnership edX has built with the DfE, one of our longstanding UK boot camp partners, University of Birmingham, also has received funding from DfE. This funding includes an extra 120 seats specifically allocated for residents of the West Midlands, enabling them to enroll in the University of Birmingham’s Skills Bootcamp focused on front-end web development and user experience (UX), empowering individuals to pursue careers in the tech industry.


As an approved training provider by the Department for Education, edX Skills Bootcamp offers eligible learners the opportunity to enroll in a 16-week online program led by industry experts. This boot camp covers various topics, including instruction in application programming interfaces (APIs), user experience design, and building and deploying modern web applications. The learning experience is enriched through practical activities and immersive projects, facilitating a deep understanding of industry-standard programming practices, including agile development, version control, and technical project management.

Participants in this program receive 24/7 on-demand learning assistance and one-on-one tutoring if they encounter challenges. They also have the opportunity to connect with a dynamic network that includes engaged instructors, Teaching Assistants(TAs), peers, and alumni. Moreover, all boot camp participants gain access to edX’s Career Engagement Network, offering comprehensive career services, including one-on-one coaching, resume templates and reviews, interview preparation resources, workshops, virtual events, and career fairs featuring top employers. The educational and career support provided to learners is in line with Skills for Life’s objectives by not only delivering training but also empowering participants in securing employment and embarking fulfilling careers. 

In partnership with edX, the University of Birmingham has marked significant achievements, with over 200 learners successfully graduating in coding and data analytics by the end of 2022. This achievement has been instrumental in enriching the talent pool within one of the UK’s rapidly expanding technology sectors.

These scholarships have been a major driver for enrollment. People from very different backgrounds can go from learning invaluable skills in these boot camps to being highly employable in a short period of time.”

—Steve Allmark, Head of Postgraduate Recruitment, University of Birmingham

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  1. Unlocking the UK’s potential with digital skills. (2020). Microsoft. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  2. Unlocking the UK’s potential with digital skills. (2020). Microsoft. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  3. Digital Skills Gaps are Bad for Everyone. (2020). Forbes. Retrieved September 15, 2023.

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