The digital skills shortage is costing the UK economy more than £50bn a year, with eight in ten business leaders admitting that this dearth of talent is having a negative impact on their organisation yet few seem willing to reskill staff.
So says a new damning report from digital services company AND Digital, “The Nature of the Digital Skills Gap”, which reveals that with three-fifths (61%) of business growth dependant on digital outcomes, the situation is reaching crisis point,
Based on AND Digital’s findings, £240bn of UK business growth is at risk between now and 2026.
It shows that over a quarter (27%) of businesses attribute employee churn, a loss of talent, or difficulty attracting talent to a lack of digital skills, with over a fifth (22%) admitting it has impacted their ability to hit business targets, made them lose customers or key business opportunities.
Yet, almost three-fifths (58%) of workers claim they have not received digital upskilling from their employer.
The research commissioned by AND Digital, which surveyed 5,000 UK workers who use technology in their roles, analysed the digital skills capabilities at an individual, team and organisational level. Overall, it highlights that urgent action to digitally upskill the UK’s workforce could help its chance of economic recovery.
AND Digital found that over a quarter (27%) of workers feel they lack sufficient digital skills for their current role, but a similar proportion (22%) of organisations do not offer digital skills upskilling.
Of those employers that do prioritise upskilling, half (52%) of employees believe their organisation only sees it as a worthwhile investment for obvious tech-focused roles.
A widespread misunderstanding of what digital skills actually means presents a further barrier to closing the gap. Over a third (35%) of respondents believe it means the ability to fix IT issues. Similarly, almost half of respondents (47%) believe digital skills means either the ability to code and programme, build a website or create mobile/computer applications.
Skills such as constantly evolving the way they work to keep up with innovation (34%) and being experimental in their role using digital tools (26%) came further down the list.
A lack of digital skills growth is also directly impacting career progression, with six in 10 (58%) workers claiming they have been affected negatively by a lack of digital skills.
Almost a third (29%) say it has meant being turned down from either pay rises, promotions or not putting themselves forward for promotion. One fifth (20%) say it has stopped them from applying for certain jobs and 16% felt they either had to quit their jobs or leave their industry.
AND Digital founder and CEO Paramjit Uppal said: “Digital skills mean so much more than just technical skills. It also includes professional skills, such as product and delivery management, and soft, human skills such as empathy, creativity and teaming.
“Individuals and teams with such skills are vital in creating a digital future, and for businesses to see continued growth and success.”
Late last month, British businesses were warned they can not rely on graduates to combat the major data science skills shortage but must instead take urgent action to reskill and train up their own workforce to prevent the UK sleepwalking into a crisis.
According to the “How To Solve The Data Science Skills Shortage” report, 44% of firms plan to invest in AI technology, but 63% said their staff did not have the skills necessary and 61% did not have enough staff to deliver the benefits of AI.
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