Are professionals ignoring the growing digital skills gap?

Written by Jazz Gandhum on 24 November 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

Jazz Gandhum underlines the importance of the right skills in the digital economy.

Do you think you boast the necessary skills for modern employment, or are you one of the many struggling to keep pace and stand out in this accelerating digital world?

This week, Philip Hammond revealed the much-anticipated Autumn Budget – where he pledged a massive £30m to supporting digital skills development through distance learning courses.  

This comes following a plethora of telling research, including a recent survey by the British Chamber of Commerce [BCC], which found more than three in four companies are facing a worrying shortage of digital skills in their workforce. 

The survey, of more than 1,400 businesses across the UK, also revealed that 84% of firms believe digital and IT skills are more important to their business than two years ago, and half say these skills are significantly more important.

According to the BCC, the main problem lies in lack of time for staff development, together with a difficulty in identifying appropriate training opportunities within the digital sectors.

That said, Hammond’s new digital skills fund - which includes a focus on embracing the benefits of artificial intelligence - will hopefully push businesses into helping employees develop the skills required to participate in the digital economy, and maintain their positions for years to come.  

By helping employees develop their digital skillsets, business owners can bring both operations and workforce up to date, supporting professional development, whilst protecting their business for the long-term.

If we’re being honest, SMEs have been skating around the digital skills gap for years now, where despite being all too aware of the growing skills shortage, a vast percentage have failed to implement change. The resolution, however, is clear - the only way to improve skill levels is to tackle the problem head on and invest in staff education and training, with or without Government funding:

Skills development for all? 

If the last decade has taught us anything, it’s that technology has the potential to grow rapidly – having created a whole new wave of industry and market sectors, which have become integral to the UK economy.   

Alarming statistics aside, the Digital Skills Gap doesn’t just present problems, it also presents opportunity: An opportunity to advance our capabilities, expand our knowledge and challenge existing limitations.

By helping employees develop their digital skillsets, business owners can bring both operations and workforce up to date, supporting professional development, whilst protecting their business for the long-term.

Transforming Opinions 

In life, we often approach the unknown with caution – believing someone else will step up to the plate, leaving us in a state of comfort and tranquillity. But what if the task in hand needs everyone to take part?  

This is how business owners should approach the digital skills shortage. Instead of spending time and money competing for limited resource, train and develop your own -  transform opinions, develop existing job roles and provide team members with the opportunity to learn something new, whilst protecting themselves against the advancing digital skills ‘threat’.

Technology is now evolving at such a rate that no-one can afford to sit still.

Don’t ignore the Apprenticeship Levy, use it

The Apprenticeship Levy came into force earlier this year, and for businesses with a wage bill of £3m per year, was perceived by many as another Employment Tax. The truth of the matter, is that the Apprenticeship Levy provides the UK Business sector with a pot of money to help train their existing workforce, with a whole host of digital related courses on offer!  

For businesses required to pay the levy, this is one surefire way of clawing that money back. For businesses that don’t, the levy pot is there to fund up to 90% of training opportunities, with many courses also available online, overcoming obstacles associated with time, accessibility and cost.  

 

About the author

Jazz Gandhum is CEO of edtech firm, e-Careers

 

Read more from Jazz here

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