Government support needed to tackle digital skills shortage

A shortage of digital skills is hampering the productivity of UK companies, according to a survey conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce. It found that more than 80% of businesses are facing a shortage of digital skills, with 59% reporting a slight shortage, 20% a significant one and 4% a critical shortage. The survey also found that 83% of firms believe these skills are more important to their business than two years ago, with 44% saying they are significantly more important.

“It is concerning that so many are reporting knowledge gaps and skills shortages that are having a direct impact on business,” said Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce. “That is why it is important that our governments at a Scottish and UK level work harder to reduce business costs through taxation in order to free up the resources that businesses need to invest in these skills for the future.”

Among the survey’s findings:

Most important to companies are basic computer skills (75%), communicating and connecting through digital channels (73%) and management of digital information (72%);

Skills shortages are having adverse effects on many firms including, increasing workload on existing staff (57%), causing difficulties in meeting customer requirements (38%), and higher operating costs (34%);

Businesses regard a lack of time for staff training (45%), difficulty in identifying appropriate training (43%), and the high cost of training (33%), as the leading barriers to rectifying these shortages.