Digital skills gaps

Digital skills gaps exist amongst staff in most industry sectors.

Research by Oxford Economics claims Scottish businesses could increase revenues by £10.7 billion (3.6%) if firms fully develop their digital potential, and that UK companies would add more than one million new jobs over the next two years by improving the digital capabilities of all their employees, becoming more productive, innovative, profitable and secure.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) highlights growth opportunities for sectors such as retail, where online shopping now accounts for 12% of all sales – but claims one-fifth of retailers have serious digital skills gaps – and that overall only 14% of companies are happy with the IT training delivered to their staff. Yet the business benefits from improving the digital skills of employees is widely acknowledged, and most agree that in particular older workers must improve their IT skills as technology changes and customers demand better levels of service akin to online experience – cheaper, quicker and more efficient.

Even young people entering the workforce do not have digital skills levels relevant to technology driven industries. Skills need to be aligned to industry needs whether digital copywriting, search engine optimisation or coding – critical digital skills like these need to deliver workable solutions in the context of the business.

To better enable the next generation some schools have appointed student digital leaders who provide ICT support to their peers and the staff, running teach-the-teacher workshops, coding clubs for pupils, and share their experiences with other schools on Skype.

Schools have a role to play, but ultimately businesses must invest now in digital training to empower their employees, boost productivity and fuel innovation for the future.

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