Lack of digital skills jeopardising UK business growth
04 October 2022 • 6 min read
Estimations show £240bn of UK growth* at risk between now and 2026, if digital gap not addressed.
New research highlights:
- A lack of digital skills is jeopardising UK business growth, with 81% of managing directors saying a lack of digital skills has had a negative impact on their organisation.
- Over a quarter (27%) of UK workers feel they lack sufficient digital skills for their job role, and almost six in 10 (58%) have not received digital upskilling from their employer
- A widespread misunderstanding exists of what digital skills means, with over a third (35%) of workers believing it means the ability to fix IT issues, presenting a further barrier to closing the digital skills gap
- Not receiving adequate digital upskilling is also impacting individual career progression, including being turned down from pay rises or promotions (29%)
LONDON, UK - Tuesday 4th October 2022, 8AM GMT
Digital services company AND Digital has today released its The Nature of the Digital Skills Gap report, which reveals that over half (61%) of business growth depends on digital outcomes, with most (81%) managing directors admitting that a lack of digital skills is having a negative impact on their organisation already. Based on AND Digital’s estimations, this equates to £50bn per year across the UK economy, and more than £240bn between now and 2026.*
These findings are alarming, with over a quarter (27%) of businesses attributing employee churn, a loss of talent, or difficulty attracting talent to a lack of digital skills. Critically, over a fifth (22%) admit it has impacted their ability to hit business targets, made them lose customers or key business opportunities. Yet, this issue is compounded by the fact that almost over half (58%) workers admit 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.
Workers are not receiving adequate upskilling to meet required growth
AND Digital found that over a quarter (27%) of workers surveyed feel they lack sufficient digital skills for their current role, but almost a quarter (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 exists of what digital skills means
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.
Paramjit Uppal, Founder and CEO, AND Digital, 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.”
Inadequate upskilling is also impacting individual careers
Despite the misunderstanding of what digital skills means, as well as a lack of current digital training, there is a certain appetite for upskilling. Half (49%) of respondents stated that improving their digital skills is essential for their career progression - whether that’s earning more or performing better in their role. But workplace perceptions present a barrier, with four in 10 (42%) of workers feeling daunted by the prospect of digital upskilling and not feeling comfortable bringing it up with their employer.
A lack of digital skills growth is directly impacting career progression, with six in 10 (58%) people saying 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 a certain job and 16% have felt they either had to quit their jobs or leave their industry.
Paramjit Uppal, Founder and CEO, AND Digital, said: “Despite the digital skills gap discussion persisting for over a decade, UK organisations are still failing to sufficiently upskill employees, and it is directly impacting business and wider economic growth. This is because we have not come to a shared understanding of what the skills gap is or what digital skills means - this needs to be done to move forward and close the gap.
“In the next three years, AND Digital estimates the UK workforce will require eight million individuals proficient in digital skills to close the gap. A number which even the most effective recruitment teams will struggle with. This means organisations must prioritise digital upskilling - ensuring individuals, teams and organisations as a whole are fit for a digital present and future, and helping to prevent economic stagnation.”
More data can be found in the The Nature of the Digital Skills Gap report at this link.
The data in this press release is from a collection of research surveys, desk research and estimation calculations based on data referenced throughout the paper. Specific research commissioned or carried out by AND Digital is referenced below.
- Commissioned by AND Digital, Opinium Research surveyed the following:
- 5,000 knowledge workers - workers who use technology/knowledge in their role in companies of 10+ employees - from across the UK (survey conducted: August 2022).
- 750 hiring managers in companies of 10+ employees - from across the UK (survey conducted: August 2022).
- 400 senior decision makers in companies with more than 10M revenues, from across market sectors in the UK, who are involved in decisions related to digital services (survey conducted: July 2022).
- AND Digital conducted analysis of vacancy data from across the UK for 2022 sourced from Lightcast.io (analysis conducted: August-September 2022)
*estimations show £240bn of UK growth* at risk between now and 2026 if digital gap not addressed
This estimation is based on ONS estimations of £2trillion GDP at 2% growth rate by 2026. 61% of this growth depends on digital outcomes, of which digital skills are needed to deliver.
About AND Digital
AND Digital is a digital services company with a mission to close the world’s digital skills gap. It guides, builds and equips organisations in the development of world-class digital capabilities. Employing 1,700 strong and growing digital experts, its unique approach of equipping its clients with the digital skills and capabilities they need to excel, rather than leaving them dependent, has been the driver of the company’s rapid growth.
AND Digital empowers organisations including BA, Diageo, Whitbread, Taylor & Francis and the Telegraph Group, with the ability to build digital products AND grow their internal capability along the way. To achieve this, the company blends technical craft and digital product expertise with an award-winning learning and development ethos. Ranked 10th nationally in The Sunday Times 100 Best, and among The Sunday Times Growth 100 2022, AND Digital is also rated as one of The Next Web’s Top 5 fastest growing UK tech companies. AND Digital operates through an innovative series of nimble, Agile ‘Clubs’ across the UK in cities including London, Leeds, Manchester, Maidenhead and Halifax – plus Amsterdam - offering a flexible and highly responsive service to clients.