Businesses often tell us that accessing digital skills is one of the biggest barriers to digital transformation, business growth and competitiveness. Businesses want to know what ‘digital skills’ really are, and how they can build the digital skills within their workforce to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution and prepare for the future of work.
That’s why the CBI, in partnership with Tata Consultancy Services, has conducted research to provide new insight for businesses and evidence for the government to take action. Our new report, Delivering Skills for the New Economy, shines new light on the UK’s rapidly accelerating digital skills needs and the steps business and government can take together to create a world-leading digital talent pipeline. This report provides new evidence to drive the government’s digital skills agenda forwards and insight for businesses looking to overcome their own digital skills challenges.
The UK is at a tipping point on digital skills. Demand already outstrips supply, with over two thirds of businesses reporting unfilled digital skills vacancies - and is set to skyrocket. But whilst 93% of businesses are already taking action to address their rapidly accelerating digital skills needs, the majority are fishing in the same pool for talent.
From talking to businesses across the country, there are five core actions businesses can take to strengthen their digital skills ecosystem:
- Start with crafting a long-term digital vision;
- Make digital skills a company-wide initiative;
- Look to collaborate externally, for example with your supply chain or local SMEs;
- Inspire and support the next generation by extending relationships with education providers and using apprenticeships as a route into digital roles;
- Harness your existing talent by looking for hidden skills within your workforce and retraining at work.
But business can’t address the UK’s accelerating digital skills needs alone. Government must set an ambitious goal for digital skills and ramp up business-government collaboration and coordination if the digital skills pipeline is going to deliver effectively – today and in the future.
This report calls on government to:
- Ramp up coordination of regional digital skills initiatives and better link local digital skills demand and supply;
- Build digital understanding into all government retraining schemes – and include targeted support for software engineering and data analytics skills;
- Set an ambitious goal for 100% of the workforce to have basic digital skills by 2025.
Now is the time for action to create a world-leading digital skills supply in the UK.