UK digital gap is set to grow as staff find training 'useless and boring'

08 January 2018 5 min. read

UK employers are increasingly concerned by a digital talent gap, despite the country hosting a higher-than-average proportion of digitally skilled workers. Almost six in every ten organisations in Britain say they are currently working to respond to such a skills gap, as they bid to successfully transform their business models. However, high numbers of staff feel that their company’s training efforts are not enough, meaning that the gap may continue to grow.

Digital transformation consulting has become a $23 billion industry in recent years, as new innovations have rapidly become integral parts of any successful business model.This is due, in part, to the pressure of ensuring that staff at a business have the correct skills to make effective use of digital technology, which has become an essential aspect of the digital transformation process.

The majority of digital transformations still struggle to help companies hit their maximum growth potential, as a talent gap hinders efforts. While this has been treated as a matter for HR departments alone to tackle, previously, a new joint report from career website LinkedIn and consulting firm Capgemini suggests that all areas of a business must coordinate to tackle a skills gap, which is presently widening rather than shrinking.

Percentage of organizations responding to widening of digital talent gap - by geography

Analysts took on a worldwide, cross-sector research programme, looking into the demand and supply of digital talent via LinkedIn’s global database of jobs, firms and professionals. Capgemini’s researchers surveyed over 1,200 people to gain the perspectives of both employees and leadership teams and also interviewed human resource and talent executives within organisations as well as digital and technology recruiters, in order to understand demand and supply for specific digital skills and digital roles.

In order to define ‘digital talent’, Capgemini earmarked 24 hard digital skills and eight soft digital skills. The researchers created a profile for a typical ‘digital talent employee’, who is proficient in at least one of the 24 hard digital skills and in at least four of the eight soft digital skills. Such employees constitute over half (56%) of those surveyed.

The digital talent-gap is widening on a global basis. Every second organisation that Capgemini surveyed acknowledged this fact, with 54% also agreeing that the gap is hampering their transformation programs, and that their organisation has lost competitive advantage because of a shortage of digital talent. UK organisations were above average in acknowledging the yawning talent shortage, with 57% of British entities stating that the gap had widened in the past two years.

India has the highest proportion of digital talent

Proportionally, however, the UK has a higher than average rate of digital talent, which would likely meet this demand if used properly. Globally, 56% of the workforce are considered digital talents, while in Britain 62% were. This places the UK ahead of the Netherlands (61%) – and well ahead of the United States (55%) and key Eurozone rivals of France (48%) and Germany (44%), who all fell below the global average of digital skills.

Growing gap

One of the key driving forces of the widening skills gap, globally, is the lack of sufficient training presently offered for employees. 42% of employees currently believe their organisation’s training programmes are “useless and boring”. This portion is even higher among individuals defined as digital talent, with 45% also describing employers’ efforts at training in damning terms. Both figures are roughly in-line with a recent Civil Service survey, which showed 43% of Whitehall staff still do not feel their digital training has been sufficient, often being forced to take their up-skilling into their own hands.

Subsequently, the digital skills shortage is likely to grow, according to a large number of employees. Overall, 29% of employees believe their skill set is already redundant, or will become so in the next one to two years, while over a third (38%) believe their skill set will be redundant in the next four to five years. Surprisingly perhaps, this percentage is even higher among the ‘digital native’ generations Y and Z. 47% of those emerging workforce members believed that their skills would be surplus to requirements in the coming era.

Employees across countries and industries believe their skill set is or will be redundant

Digitally talented individuals are even more anxious about their skills. A third, or 33% of them, believe their skill set is redundant now or will be in the next one to two years, while 44% believe their skill set will be redundant in the next four to five years.

British employees are also above average when it comes to anxiety surrounding their skills. 32% believe their skills will become redundant in the next two years, while 39% foresee that scenario arising in the coming five year period. This potentially means that British businesses could miss out on the vast potential of automation and digitisation of their operations. While employers might be relying on such processes to fulfil certain roles entirely, research suggests that only 5% of jobscould be fully automated, with the rest relying on human talent for execution in collaboration with technology. Without significant efforts to address the growth in digital talent gaps, companies are likely to fail in their bids to get the most out of the new innovations implemented in their organisations.