Are UK Companies Stuck in a Cycle of Poor Productivity Due to Lack of Digital Skills?

Are UK Companies Stuck in a Cycle of Poor Productivity Due to Lack of Digital Skills?

More evidence of the growing digital skills shortage in the UK has emerged from a recent survey by the British Chamber of Commerce.

At a time when digital capability is becoming increasingly important, the survey reports that many UK businesses are facing a digital and IT skills shortage. As a consequence, many are stuck in a cycle of poor productivity threatening our international competitiveness.

Based on a January 2017 survey of 1,400 businesses across the UK, 84% stated that digital and IT skills are more important to their business compared with two years ago, with half (51%) saying that digital skills are ‘significantly more important’.

Three-in-four businesses are facing a shortage of workforce digital skills, with 52% reporting a ‘slight shortage’, 21% a ‘significant shortage’ and 3% a ‘critical shortage’.

Three main digital skills were identified as being most important by the companies surveyed – basic computer skills (72%), communicating and connecting through digital channels (71%) and management of digital information (69%).

The shortage of digital skills is having an adverse impact in three main areas – ‘increasing the workload of existing staff’ (52%), ‘higher operating costs’ (29%) and ‘difficulties in meeting customer requirements’ (28%).

Lack of time for staff training (41%), difficulty in identifying appropriate training (32%) and high training costs (25%) were identified as being the main barriers to rectifying these shortages.

The report concludes that better digital skills makes firms more productive; a lack of digital skills holds them back. Many companies are stuck in a cycle of low productivity.

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