Is a digital skills shortage holding your business back?

posted by 5 years ago in News

If it is then you’re not alone according to digital skills charity Go ON UK. It has produced a digital skills heatmap to highlight the geographical areas that are seriously lacking when it comes to getting to grips with the digital age. The charity found that over 12 million people and over 1 million businesses in the UK do not currently have adequate skills.

So what are these digital capabilities? Go ON UK claim that, in order to make the grade, you must be able to manage information, communicate, make payments, solve problems, and create things online. Whilst this check list might be seen as straightforward to many who use computers daily there are a large number for whom digital skills are a struggle and, it is this group, according to the charity, who are causing issues for the UK as a whole. Go ON UK are warning that there may be a threat to economic growth, social mobility and productivity as a consequence if we don’t close the skills gap.

The heatmap has been created using data about education, income, health and internet access combined with a digital skills assessment survey of more than 4,000 people nationwide.

So which areas are leading the way when it comes to the digital revolution and where is left trailing behind? Digital skills hotspots include greater London, where 84 per cent of people possessed the key skills, and Scotland and East Anglia (both 81 per cent). However, the picture is not so bright for Wales where over a third of the population did not possess the specified digital competences.

Rachel Neaman, Go ON UK CEO said:

“The UK is experiencing a digital skills crisis. 12.6 million adults, 1.2 million small businesses, and over half of all charities lack the Basic Digital Skills needed to succeed in today’s digital age. Digital competency is an essential skill for everyone and we believe that – without urgent action – the nation’s lack of Basic Digital Skills will continue to hold back economic growth, productivity and social mobility”.

“This is the first time digital exclusion has been measured using the new definition of Basic Digital Skills, introduced in early 2015. Go ON UK has developed its new mapping tool, not only to support those working in the digital skills and inclusion sector, but to provide the data to highlight the scope and local variance of this issue, and make the case for the social and economic importance of universal Basic Digital Skills”.

Ellen Helsper, Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, who developed the methodology behind the map, said:

“The Go ON UK Digital Exclusion Heatmap is a wake-up call. It shows clearly how social and digital exclusion are closely related. The lack of Basic Digital Skills and access in already disadvantaged areas is likely to lead to an increase in inequality of opportunity around the UK”.