Firms want digital skills but aren’t investing in them says Barclays

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Companies have a digital skills checklist that isn’t being supported

British businesses are not doing enough to boost employees’ digital competence, according to new research commissioned by Barclays.

While almost half (47 percent) of all businesses believe better digital skills would lead to a more productive workforce, average investment in digital up-skilling remains low at only £109 a year per employee among medium- and large-sized businesses, according to the research.

The survey of UK employees and employers found that businesses have struggled to digitally up-skill the workforce, as a third (34 percent) of employers find it difficult to implement the right training to address the current lack of digital skills.

Instead, two-fifths (40 percent) of businesses opt to hire younger, more digitally savvy employees to address the digital skills gap, with 45 percent of organisations admitting to believing that older employees are often slower to pick up digital skills.

A third (33 percent) of employers consider only a small proportion of their employees as having the digital skills they would expect of them given their role.

Mobile securityMore than a quarter (27 percent) of employers surveyed considered knowledge of data and device protection a priority digital skill to look for when hiring new employees, exposing concerns amongst British businesses around cyber and information security.

Other digital skills that are a high priority for organisations:

· Ability to analyse large data sets (23 percent)

· Use social media effectively (21 percent)

· Use cloud-based tools and services for collaboration and storage (20 percent)

· Basic design skills (19 percent)

· Basic knowledge of building a website (16 percent)

· Coding skills (15 percent)

· Ability to produce video content (10 percent)

But despite the digital needs of businesses, the research found that organisations are only planning to increase investment in digital skills by 19 percent over the next five years.

Despite feeling concerned at a lack of digital skills, a significant proportion of employees are still not taking steps to up-skill themselves. Almost half (47 percent) of all employees asked have never taken steps to boost their digital capabilities, while out of those that have only 16 percent have done so in the last year.

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.”

He said: “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.”

The research was based on responses from 507 UK business decision makers and business owners and 2,004 UK adults

@AntonySavvas