CEO of Barclays warns the UK must act now to improve digital skills

Inadequate investment leaves British businesses exposed to digital skills gap according to new research 

British businesses are not doing enough to boost employees’ digital competence, according to new research commissioned by Barclays. While almost half (47 per cent) of all businesses believe better digital skills would lead to a more productive workforce, investment in digital upskilling remains low at only £109 per employee among medium and large businesses.

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Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK (pictured above), 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.

“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. We are at a tipping point when it comes to digital skills and the UK must act now to ensure we are not left behind.”

The survey of UK employees and employers found that businesses have struggled to digitally upskill the workforce, with 34 per cent of employers finding it difficult to implement the right training to address the current lack of digital skills.

Instead, 40 per cent of businesses opt to hire younger, more digitally savvy employees to address the digital skills gap, with 45 per cent of organisations admitting to believing that older employees are often slower to pick up digital skills.

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

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

However, in spite of this mounting concern, businesses are not making the necessary investments in digital training, planning on increasing investment in digital skills by only 19 per cent over the next five years.


Debbie Carter

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