Digital talent gap set to 'skyrocket'

Two-thirds of companies across the UK have unfilled digital vacancies, according to a report published on Tuesday.

Woman working on two computer screens
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) surveyed 250 businesses, most of whom said demand for digital skills would "skyrocket" over the next few years.

CBI/TCS report: 'Delivering Skills for the New Economy'

"Currently, the UK is losing out on £63 billion a year as companies struggle to find people with digital skills. This could jeopardise the country’s competitiveness, deter investment and limit people’s ability to access the jobs and services that technology offers," the CBI said.The CBI/TCS report, 'Delivering Skills for the New Economy', said that only 31 per cent of companies were confident they would able to access the digital skills they required over the coming three to five years.Some 60 per cent of larger companies said their digital skills needs would surge over the next five years while, among smaller firms, 69 per cent felt their needs were likely to peak over the coming two years.More than half (55 per cent) of larger firms reported problems in recruiting software engineers and 61 per cent said they were struggling to hire data analysts.The CBI added: "The majority of companies surveyed are taking action to tackle their digital skills shortages with 56 per cent of businesses confident they are spending enough on addressing their digital skills needs right now."But in reality, almost half of businesses (46 per cent) are fishing in the same pool, by trying to hire outside of their organisation as the main way to access the digital skills they need."
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The CBI called on the government to set an ambitious target for the entire UK workforce to have basic digital skills by 2025 and to work with businesses to engage with relevant academic and technical education institutions.Additionally, the report said businesses must better understand their digital skills needs and coordinate with local policymakers, businesses and learning providers to create local skills provision that address their skills demands.Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at the CBI, said: “Technology is changing the way we live and work, creating millions of jobs and adding £184 billion to the UK economy. Yet this new data reveals the majority of firms are struggling to fill digital roles across all sectors and skills levels – with demand set to skyrocket in the next few years.

UK government must ensure that people have basic digital skills

“Digital skills are absolutely fundamental to getting people ready for the future of work and helping companies make the most of the opportunities technology brings.“It’s essential we tackle the UK’s digital skills crunch now to remain internationally competitive, and promote the UK as the number one place for businesses to invest.“Ensuring people have basic digital skills will transform lives, open up job opportunities and help people across society access public services online. It’s important that no-one is left behind as our workplaces change and that everyone has the skills to benefit from the new economy.”Shankar Narayanan, UK & Ireland vice-president at TCS, added: “This new research with the CBI makes it clear that for the UK economy to remain competitive into the future, it’s important to ensure the UK’s workforce continually see the value in building the necessary skills for a career in technology."This doesn’t just mean training those already in the technology space. In fact, it means looking at the other talents within a business and knowing how to capture these skills and enhance them with more technology knowledge and literacy.”

Read the CBI/TCS report

Read more about UK jobs and the economy

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