digital skills

Businesses struggling with the UK’s growing digital skills gap, says CBI

Image credit: Dreamstime

The digital skills gap in the UK is widening, according to a new report from the CBI which finds that over two-thirds of companies struggle to fill vacancies for digital roles.

It found that companies are losing around £63bn a year due to the lack of skills, which could ultimately jeopardise the UK’s competitiveness, deter investment and limit people’s ability to access the jobs and services that technology offers.

250 businesses were included in the survey and around 60 per cent of larger firms said their digital skills needs are set to skyrocket over the next three to five years.

Meanwhile, 69 per cent of smaller businesses said their needs are likely to peak over the next year or two.

Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, said: “Technology is changing the way we live and work, creating millions of jobs and adding £184bn to the UK economy. Yet this new data reveals the majority of firms are struggling to fill digital roles across all sectors and skills levels, with demand set to skyrocket in the next few years.

“Digital skills are absolutely fundamental to getting people ready for the future of work and helping companies make the most of the opportunities technology brings. It’s essential we tackle the UK’s digital skills crunch now to remain internationally competitive and promote the UK as the number one place for businesses to invest.”

One in five firms were unable to find employees with basic digital skills, such as writing documents using a word processor or using spreadsheets effectively, and more than half reported challenges in recruiting software engineers or data analysts, said the report.

To tackle the issue, the CBI recommended that the Government should set an ambitious target to educate the entire UK workforce to have basic digital skills by 2025 and work with businesses to engage with relevant academic and technical education institutions.

They also said that businesses need to develop a better understand of their digital skill needs and coordinate more with local policymakers, businesses and educational institutions.

Shankar Narayanan, of Tata Consultancy Services, which helped with the study, said: “This new research makes it clear that for the UK economy to remain competitive into the future, it’s important to ensure the UK’s workforce continually see the value in building the necessary skills for a career in technology.”

A Government spokesman said: “We are working with the public, private and charity sector to tackle the digital skills challenge in a co-ordinated and collaborative way and through our Digital Skills Partnership have provided more than two million targeted training opportunities.

“We are investing £84 million in a world-leading new centre for computing education for schools, led by some of the UK’s leading tech experts, to give teachers the subject knowledge and support they need to teach the next generation of talent and our new T-levels, designed in collaboration with employers, will prepare young people with the practical skills they need to succeed.”

In 2017, IET research found that the Government’s flagship industrial strategy will fail if the UK does not solve its shortage of skilled engineers. 

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles