Digital Skills Gap In Business

A digital skills gap is currently one of the most significant global challenges in the labour market. A study carried out by Gallup and Amazon Web Services showed that 72% of UK businesses have vacancies for digital workers and are unable to find suitable candidates, with only 11% of UK workers possessing the advanced digital skills required to fulfil these roles. In one of the largest international studies conducted, Gallup estimated that investing in advanced digital skills could raise the annual UK GDP by £67.8 billion. 

In an increasingly digital age, investing in your human capital and ensuring your workforce possesses the digital proficiency necessary to enable your company to succeed in today’s economy is imperative. 

Digital Skills Gap - Person using laptop on desk

What are digital skills? 

Advanced digital skills are a set of specialised abilities and knowledge related to technology and digital tools. These proficiencies are above and beyond standard computer literacy and include areas such as –

  • AI and Machine Learning – understanding and applying algorithms to utilise processing systems and other AI applications
  • Web Development – building and designing websites, including knowledge of responsive design and user experience
  • Cloud Computing – knowledge of cloud platforms like Amazon Web Service or Google Cloud.
  • Digital Marketing – online marketing strategies, including search engine optimisation, social media marketing, content creation and advertisement

This list, while not exhaustive, will constantly evolve. Staying competitive requires continuous knowledge expansion, analysis and application expansion to support business needs and growth. 

Why is bridging the digital skills gap important?

There are numerous significant drivers that support bridging the digital skills gap, including economic growth, job creation, and technological advancement.  Closing the digital skills gap ensures businesses have access to a skilled workforce capable of effectively leveraging technology and digital tools. This enhances productivity, innovation, and competitiveness, leading to economic advancement and increased job opportunities within your business.

The rapid pace of technological advancements requires individuals to adapt and acquire new skills continually. Staying ahead of the skills gap enables adopting emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing, which can drive innovation and efficiency across all sectors.

It impacts inclusivity and social impact, allowing individuals to participate fully in the digital society. Digital skills can enhance educational attainment, provide access to online services and information, and contribute to social and economic empowerment. In rapid technological change, businesses and individuals must be adaptable and resilient. By equipping individuals with digital competencies, they become more versatile and capable of navigating changing job requirements, reducing the risk of job displacement and enhancing long-term employability.

How can improving the digital skills gap benefit your business? 

  • Up-skilling and re-skilling are essential tools to encourage a learning culture within your business. Fostering continuous learning and knowledge sharing will enable the growth of your workforce. 
  • Businesses can enhance their workforce’s productivity, as employees have the competencies to streamline processes, automate tasks, and effectively utilise digital resources. This leads to improved efficiency and output, reduced operational costs, and will help to counteract productivity paranoia.
  • Digital skills foster a culture of innovation within businesses. Employees with digital proficiencies can embrace new technologies, identify opportunities for process improvement, and contribute to innovative solutions.
  • Customer expectations are evolving rapidly; businesses can deliver an enhanced customer experience across various digital channels by bridging the digital skills gap.
  • Businesses that bridge the skills gap can stay ahead of their competitors by adopting emerging technologies, implementing digital marketing strategies, and leveraging data-driven insights. This positions them as industry leaders, attracting customers, partners, and investment opportunities.
  • Bridging the digital skills gap ensures that companies have the flexibility to respond to market changes, adopt new technologies, and navigate digital disruptions.
  • In a competitive job market, businesses that offer opportunities for digital skills development can attract top talent. It also improves employee satisfaction and retention, as employees feel supported in their professional development and have opportunities to acquire valuable digital skills.

Digital Skills Gap - Person using laptop on desk

How can you explore the digital skills gaps in your business? 

It is possible to bridge the digital skills gap by equipping your workforce with the necessary competencies to thrive in the digital age. Here are some effective strategies for empowering a digital-ready workforce –

Improve education 

Investing in employee training and development is a great way to unlock growth opportunities. Providing access to digital training programmes, running regular workshops or setting up a buddy system for those who can share their expertise will all support the gap in digital skills. Some small businesses can take advantage of government funding, grants or initiatives designed to encourage digital skills in the workplace.

The Digital Skills Gap & Digital Skills Awareness

A thorough assessment of your company’s digital skills will help determine where the gaps lay; this can be achieved by evaluating your workforce’s skill sets and deciphering areas that could be improved. Speaking with your employees and discussing their aspirations for digital skills will allow you to understand areas where employees need to improve. 

Collaboration and Partnerships

Creating a network of reliable partners you can rely on to share knowledge is excellent for bridging the digital skill gap and accessing external resources and expertise. You can collaborate with local educators or industry associations to provide access to courses or mentoring initiatives. Industry networks and online communities are available where knowledge and expertise are shared to encourage digital skills growth. 

Agility and Change

Adopting a culture of change encourages innovation, experimentation and adaptability. As digital needs evolve rapidly, these attributes are imperative to stay ahead of trends and readily accept new technologies.

Bridging the digital skills gap is vital for businesses in the digital age. It offers several advantages, including increased productivity through efficient utilisation of technology, enhancing the customer experience, gaining a competitive edge, and attracting and retaining top talent. 

By investing in upskilling and reskilling programs, companies can cultivate a workforce capable of thriving in the fast-paced, technology-driven environment. Assessing skills, improving education, fostering collaboration, and embracing change are effective strategies to bridge the gap. Closing the digital skills gap benefits individual businesses and contributes to economic growth, positioning companies for long-term success in an increasingly digital world.