New figures for the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) paint a positive picture of the economy, according to Accenture Strategy.

The report suggests that the UK’s digital sector will represent 33% of total GDP by 2020 and could be worth in the region of £776 billion, meaning opportunities in this field are likely to be widespread and in demand.

On top of this, if steps are taken to promote and enhance the UK’s digital capability, GDP could increase by a further £59 billion by 2020. If this growth is to be utilised in an effective way, the UK economy must focus on up-skilling the existing workforce. The areas showcasing the most growth are the ones graduates must focus on.

The Office for National Statistics have just released Labour Market figures which point to a promising reduction in unemployment too. However, they also reveal a growing number of unfilled roles in a variety of specialist sectors while job openings are at their highest since pre 2001. Professional, scientific and technical fields are showing a jump of 9% and information and communication industries are also struggling to fill the gaps in the job market, noting a 13.8% increase in open positions.

In order to fill these growing gaps, both the business and academic communities must begin to research new ways to teach and up skill the workforce, according to Steve Hill, Director of External Engagement at The Open University. Doing so will help to secure the UK’s high ranking position in the skills market.

“The UK is a highly-skilled economy but the pace of technological and economic change means that there is a growing need for up-skilling and retraining current employees,” he explained. “Both business leaders and universities should consider the multiplicity of learning options they can employ to keep pace with these changes.”

He suggested that part-time learning could help with upskilling, although he suggested that more needs to be done to promote such opportunities. “Investing in learning drives productivity and growth whilst contributing to the retention of businesses’ most valuable assets – their staff,” he said.

Hill added that 86% of FTSE 100 companies sponsor staff on Open University courses as they recognise the value in doing so. He said the approach enables staff to keep working while they learn which in turn helps boost productivity.

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