Firms think they can hire Millennials as an alternative to digital skills training

digital skillsA large number of businesses in the UK aren’t investing enough in bridging their own digital skills gap and instead assuming that they can fix things and improve their productivity simply by employing younger ‘digital natives’ who just know all that sort of stuff anyway. That is the key finding of a new report from Barcays, which claims that companies are knowingly starving themselves of funding for key digital skills training despite understanding how that impacts their productivity. The report claims that firms on average invest just £109 per employee on digital skills training and are planning to increase that by just 19 percent over the next five years. They do this despite the fact that nearly half (47 percent) concede new tech skills would improve productivity. Instead 40 percent assume they can buy in the skills they need in the form of Millennials because they don’t trust older workers to pick up digital skills as quickly, if at all.

Just over a third of respondents believe that a small proportion of their workforce has the necessary digital skills that specific job roles require of them and a similar proportion (34 percent) admitted that they find it difficult to implement the right training.

The problem also stems from the inaction of employees, according to the study. Although employees confess they don’t have the digital skills they need to do their jobs, almost half (47 percent) of all workers admit they have never attempted to do this themselves. Of those employees that have harnessed the opportunity to boost their digital skills, 63 percent in medium-sized businesses reported that it had a positive impact on their career progression, and 68 percent said it improved their ability to do their job.

The most important skills demanded by employers according to the study include online security (27 percent), complex data analysis (23 percent), social media (21 percent), cloud-based tools and services for collaboration and storage (20 percent), design (19 percent), website building (16 percent), coding (15 percent), and video production (10 percent).

Barclays UK CEO Ashok Vaswani said that the findings highlighted the threats and opportunities related to digital skills. “Although in many ways empowering, the digital revolution can also be challenging because it requires people to acquire, retain and consistently develop new skills and understanding,” he commented. “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. 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.”

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