A new report from the global consulting firm Accenture has found that unless the growing digital skills gap is closed quickly, it could cost the UK economy £141.5bn of GDP growth over the next ten years. In those terms, it’s easy to dismiss the digital skills gap as something you can do very little about, but there are measures every business can take to reduce the potential impact.

At present, the UK already has a digital skills gap which is impacting on business growth, innovation and the broader development of the working population. Currently, 72 percent of large organisations and 49 percent of SMEs admit to suffering from a tech skills gap. The risk is that with Brexit upon us, the flow of labour between Britain and the EU will be stifled and that gap could widen. A reduced influx of EU workers combined with an ageing population could leave us with 3 million jobs left unfilled by 2030.

You might assume the digital skills gap is only being felt by Fintech firms and other technology specialists, but it already extends to a lack of business, marketing and leadership skills in today’s digital world. That is causing headaches for companies in all sectors that are struggling to hire employees who are equipped to take advantage of the opportunities the digital transformation creates.

Why does the skills gap exist?

The easy option would be to blame the current political climate for the UK’s digital skills gap, but in reality, there are numerous, eminently solvable factors that are contributing to the problem.

  • Businesses are not willing to invest

These days, you don’t need to have a degree in computer science to be ‘digitally enabled’. Short training courses can be all it takes to add new skills to an employee’s repertoire and help them become part of the solution for your business. Unfortunately, not enough businesses are willing to invest in external training to bring the skills of their employees up to scratch. Instead, they rely on outdated and often ineffective on the job training schemes to try and bridge the gap.

  • Graduates don’t have sufficient digital skills

Last year, over 85,000 people applied to be on the 2018 series of Love Island, compared with only 37,000 applications to undergraduate courses at Oxford and Cambridge. Although there’s a certain shock value associated with that statistic, it’s also indicative of a much wider problem. The trouble is that the undersubscribed STEM subjects are just not deemed to be sexy enough for youngsters obsessed by a world of reality TV, YouTube and celebrity. While posting on Instagram is a digital skill of sorts, that alone is not enough to bridge the growing tech skills gap in the UK.

A Deloitte report found that only 12 percent of business leaders felt school leavers and graduates had the right level of digital skills, down from 20 percent in 2017. The result is that over three-quarters of businesses are experiencing challenges in recruiting employees with the relevant digital skills, with data analysts and data scientists the most difficult employees to recruit and retain.

  • Gender barriers still exist

Another contributing factor in the digital skills gap is a lack of awareness of the career opportunities within digital, as well as gender stereotypes that can exist around some of the roles. Unfortunately, women still remain underrepresented in digital roles and that flows all the way down to related training courses and STEM subjects at universities and schools.

  • Traditional training isn’t filling the gap

Organisations that effectively and promptly train their workforce to be digitally proficient are best placed to utilise the abundance of digital products and services on offer. Unfortunately, many businesses are relying on traditional workforce training models that are simply not up to the job. External training providers are able to match the digital training to the specific skills your business needs. That provides your business with a range of new skills that are instantly implementable.

Digitise your team

Like any gap in the market, the digital skills gap presents an opportunity for businesses that are willing and able to adapt. At Digital Kitchen, we have created a range of digital marketing training courses to equip your team with the skills to succeed in the digital age. Find out more about our SEO, PPC, Social, Content Marketing and CRO courses and get in touch with our team.

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