Skills shortfall | Two-thirds of UK businesses are battling a digital skills gap

Two-thirds of UK businesses are battling a digital skills gap

Two-thirds of businesses are facing a digital skills gap in their workforce, according to new research.

Yet nine in ten (89%) employees are motivated to acquire new digital skills, according to the new 2023 State of Digital Adoption report from technology company, Userlane.

Some of the sought after digital skills include data analysis and interpretation (19%), use of AI (17%) and knowledge of online learning platforms (17%). The top motivations for employees to develop digital skills are:

  • Increase productivity and efficiency (34%)

  • Keep up with tech advancements (33%)

  • Improve job security (29%)

  • Increase overall digital literacy (28%)

  • Advance career and professional growth (28%)

This drive to improve their digital skillsets reflects the challenges employees currently face regarding digital adoption. Despite over half (53%) reporting that their software usage has gone up in the past year, almost all (90%) are experiencing challenges with using new applications in their work.

Significantly, the report revealed that the average UK employee is losing 2.33 hours per week due to these challenges, with 53% losing over an hour per week. A quarter have felt overwhelmed or stressed as a result. This isn’t good news for businesses, as 68% of employees see stress-free software usage as important to their overall happiness at work, with a further 90% linking it to productivity.

Additionally, just 62% believe their business is providing them with sufficient training, while a similar number (65%) believe they have the right IT support. Just over half (51%) reported that remote working has forced them to solve software-related issues by themselves. Communication is also an issue – just one-in-six (62%) feel their business explains plans for digital transformation clearly enough.

Employees are also regularly asked by others for assistance with technology. Nearly half (46%) of Gen Z staff said they’ve been asked to help executives or higher-level management. Overall, employees are most likely to be asked for assistance by:

  • Colleagues within their team or department (76%)

  • Friends and family (71%)

  • Colleagues from other departments or teams (63%)

At the same time, software training budgets are declining – UK businesses spent £1,107.63 per employee per year on training, down from £2,086.55 the previous year.

Currently, the types of software training most likely to be offered to employees are:

  • Peer-to-peer learning or knowledge sharing (62%)

  • Online self-paced courses or tutorials (59%)

  • Hands-on workshops or practical exercises (59%)

On the other hand, the types of software training most likely to be offered in the future are:

  • Interactive virtual training sessions (42%)

  • Simulations or virtual environments (42%)

  • Gamified learning experiences (40%)

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Hartmut Hahn, CEO, Userlane commented: “Employees want to stay on top of trends and take more responsibility for maintaining their digital skills. For business leaders, this is fantastic, but they must be prepared to offer the right support. This means taking the right approach to training. Our report shows that most employees prefer to apply digital skills practically – in other words, learn by doing.”

“This could partly explain the decline in traditional software training budgets. More and more business leaders are of the opinion that traditional classroom trainings, videos and user manuals, which can be expensive and cumbersome, are no longer practical - especially on a large scale. Instead, they need a people-focused, scalable approach to digital adoption, one which empowers employees to get familiar with software at their own pace.”

“A great way to achieve this is by implementing a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP). DAPs not only integrate seamlessly with any software your employees are using, but they can also be combined with analytics tools that track and measure digital adoption progress across hundreds of different applications.”

Userlane’s 2023 State of Digital Adoption report can be viewed here.

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