How can businesses help to close the digital skills gap?

The digital landscape is evolving rapidly, the last decade has seen huge amounts of growth for the technology sector. Tech professionals are the second most sought after role in the marketplace and a considerable amount of research shows that the UK is suffering from a digital skills gap. A study made by Microsoft in 2020 found that 7 out of 10 UK businesses are facing a digital skills gap.

So, what is the digital skills gap?

It refers to the lack of properly trained candidates to fill necessary posts in businesses. A recent government report found that 72% of large companies and 49% of SMEs are suffering a large digital skills gap.

Arguably, the most notable reason for the extensive digital skills gap is the rapid expansion of the tech industry over the last few decades. Digital transformation has rocketed across all industries and driven an extraordinary level of demand for new skills that the country is ill-equipped to meet. This skills gap presents a challenge to the future of both businesses and individuals. The good news? The problem is not as obstinate as it might seem.

This issue requires response from policymakers, employers, and educators to diminish the potential negative implications for the UK and for businesses. Of course, to fully close the skills gap will take time, and a shift of mindset, with more young people encouraged to embrace technical subjects to help build a deeper talent pool for the future.

Take an active role at closing the gap

Build partnerships with local schools, colleges, and universities to inspire young people and try to get them excited about embracing digital and technological skills.

We see the value in encouraging young talent to join the technology sector.  Our approach to the digital skills gap has seen a huge expansion of our apprenticeship programme, more recently creating the razorblue Academy, which gives us a chance to train staff and give them hands-on experience in key disciplines.

Invest in training and development

Although this is harder for some businesses, there is no getting away from the fact that employers must invest in their workforce to continually increase their skills- for both existing staff and the future talent pool.

Retraining people to work in new areas supports employees’ learning and professional development, becoming a key element of the organisation’s ability to recruit and retain people.

Businesses must support the advancement and growth of their teams by offering personal development opportunities and plans, where individual employees can exploit them in a way that suits them.

Look out for other training opportunities from valued partnerships – such as university courses, partner portals, events, seminars and webinars. There is a whole world of fully funded content and courses available, reach out to your local colleges and universities to learn more.

By actively encouraging employees to participate in the development of their digital skills, you are investing in your staff and their development, as well as the future of your business.

Think about your company

The value a company brings and what it offers to its employees is a critical aspect when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Proactive employers are already finding ways to cope with the skills gap by including opportunities for flexible working and offering perks to benefit employees.

Creating a culture in which people feel supported is key. We recently implemented IntelliHR, a system to give us insight into how our people are doing at any given time, both in work and a personal capacity, ensuring that the business can support them in the most appropriate way.

There is a lot that still needs to be done about the digital skills gap in the UK, however business proactivity is key to closing the gap. Digital skills are the future, and how we react on a micro scale will impact how the UK competes in the world market over the coming years.