News: Rather than train existing employees businesses are seeking to hire younger staff that are more digitally skilled.
British businesses are failing to do enough to boost employees’ digital competence.
Inadequate levels of investment are to blame for businesses struggles in up-skilling their workforce with only £109 per person on average annually being spent on digital skills training.
The outcome of this is that it leaves them at risk of falling behind more digitally advanced competitors.
According to research commissioned by Barclays, 47% of UK employees think their organisation would be more productive if the level of digital skills was higher. Part of the problem is that 34% of UK employers find it difficult to implement the right training to digitally up-skill their workforce.
To overcome this problem many employers (40%) are relying upon younger employees and graduates for the digital skills they require which bypasses the need to train mid-level employees. An additional problem is that 45% of organisations admitted to believing that older employees are often slower to pick up digital skills.
The overall outcome of this is that 33% of employers consider only a small proportion of their employers as having the digital skills they would expect of them given their role.
This problem hasn’t gone unnoticed by either the employer or employees with staff at medium-sized firms the most concerned about reduced productivity caused by a lack of digital skills (38%). Being overlooked for promotion (42%), being shown up by the younger generation (37%), and redundancy (40%) are all concerns associated with a lack of digital skills.
The fear of being replaced by younger, more digitally savvy employees is reflected by the fact that 59% of medium-sized businesses say that they rely on hiring younger employees to address the lack of digital skills; this is much higher than the average of 40%.
Despite the concerns about being replaced by younger, more digitally savvy recruits, a large amount of employees are not taking any steps to up-skill themselves with 47% having never taken any steps to boost their digital capabilities. Of those that have taken steps only 16% have done so in the last year.
The majority of employees (63%) that have taken the opportunity to boost their digital skills in medium sized businesses say that it has had a positive impact on their career progression and their ability to do their job (68%).
Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK, said: "The digital revolution is having a profound effect on our lives by dramatically changing the way we live and work and interact with one another. Although in many ways this is empowering, it can also be challenging, because it requires people and businesses to acquire, retain and consistently develop new skills and understanding to truly benefit."
"Together with government, businesses and society as a whole, we need to raise our sights beyond basic inclusion and aim to create a Britain of true digital confidence at all levels of the workforce. We are at a tipping point when it comes to digital skills and the UK must act now to ensure we are not left behind."
The technology skills gap can be identified across numerous areas in the tech sector with the pace of rapid innovation proving difficult to keep up with.
Some of the skills that are in highest demand are a knowledge of data and device protection (27%), followed by the ability to analyse large data sets (23%), and being able to use social media effectively (21%).
Other skills that are in high demand include being able to use cloud-based tools and services for collaboration and storage (20%), basic design skills (19%), basic knowledge of building a website (16%), coding skills (15%), and the ability to produce video content (10%).