The digital skills gap – and how to fix it

Research from Microsoft reveals that the ‘digital skills gap’ is widening, with almost seven in 10 (69%) of UK business leaders admitting their organisation currently has one.

The findings also show that the majority of business leaders (80%) agree that investing in digital skills is key to economic recovery from the pandemic.

The pandemic has widened the gap, with many businesses struggling to adapt to the pace of digital change. When asked about the barriers holding them back from addressing the skills gap in their organisation, a lack of budget (37%), a lack of skills investment strategy (28%), and a lack of knowledge regarding the best skills to focus on (23%) were the reasons most cited by businesses.

The report suggests that businesses should focus on developing workers’ ‘productive’ digital skills, i.e. technical skills that allow workers to create digital tools and systems. However, with just 17% of workers currently able to deploy such skills, businesses should also look to develop so-called ‘Next Gen Workers’, with high ‘consumptive’ skills (i.e. proficiency in using digital tools created by others) and basic productive skills, which should be nurtured by advanced digital training.