Digital skills gap narrows "but more needs to be done"

DataIQ News

The digital skills gap appears to be narrowing, albeit slowly, according to a new report by Deloitte which shows that digital leaders' confidence in the skills of new entrants to the workplace has improved in the past six months.

The latest Deloitte Digital Disruption Index shows that 18% of digital leaders now believe school leavers and graduates are entering the workplace with the right digital skills and experience – up from 12% just six months ago.

The research is based on responses from FTSE-listed companies, large private companies and large UK public sector organisations with a combined market value of £1.38 trillion.

In addition, a quarter of respondents said their current workforce has sufficient knowledge and expertise to execute their organisation’s digital strategy, an increase from 16% cent since 2018.

However, more still needs to be done to keep up with the pace of the change; three-quarters (75%) of digital leaders in the UK report that technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things, are fundamentally changing their organisation.

Deloitte partner Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, the author of the report, said: “Companies across the UK are investing significantly in digital technologies in order to transform their businesses. The simple truth is that without ensuring that teams have the right experience, knowledge and abilities to make the most of these technologies, these investments will prove worthless.

“While it’s promising to see improvements in leaders’ confidence in their workers’ digital abilities, a lot more still needs to be done and, if left unaddressed, the skills gap could grow to a level that’s hard to fill.

“Failure to do more to educate both those in the workforce and those in the classroom will leave the UK trailing behind our global peers in the rapidly expanding digital economy.”

Deloitte’s research also found that digital leaders’ confidence in their own digital skills has improved. Some 60% of executives are confident in their own ability to lead in the digital economy, up from 45% who said the same six months ago.

The findings showed that those who were more confident in their own skills were more likely to take responsibility for learning additional digital skills.

Vernon-Harcourt added: “Confident digital leaders are more likely to want to learn more about the technology around them. A huge amount of content is easily available for leaders to strengthen their understanding of digital technologies, the key is to make these easy for them to access.

“To successfully lead an organisation in the digital economy, leaders need to invest huge amounts of energy into learning about new technologies, challenging how these could improve their business and have the confidence to take the lead in driving change.”