Home / Economy, Employment and Growth / Digital skills to survive in the digital era | U.K closes the digital skills gap

Digital skills to survive in the digital era | U.K closes the digital skills gap

The Bad News

Over 12 million people, and a million small businesses in the UK do not have the skills to prosper in the digital era. That is the warning from Go.On UK, a charity set up to promote digital skills.


It has produced what it calls a digital exclusion heatmap, pinpointing the areas where people are most likely to miss out on the digital revolution.

London, Scotland and East Anglia, come top of the league with over 80% of people having those skills.

The map also shows that men are less likely to be digitally disadvantaged than women, with 80% having the necessary skills as compared to 74% of women.

What are these five skills, without which we are unfit for the digital future?

Well if you can manage information, communicate, make payments, solve problems, and create stuff online then you are in good shape.

Increasingly the education sector is being blamed for not producing the right calibre of people. The Huffington Post weighed into the debate in the autumn with the following statement:

“An in-depth look at the state of the UK job market reveals a very troubling reality: the skills young people are learning in schools simply do not correspond with the needs of modern businesses. According to a recent Skills Crunch report, two-thirds of companies fear a lack of skilled workers will put the brakes on Britain’s current economic recovery.”

The Good News

The Guardian reported that the UK already has the largest internet-based economy in the world (based upon GDP) that is according to the Boston Consulting Group so this issue is not going away. They state this growth is resulting in a surge of demand for jobs, with recruitment in digital outperforming all other sectors by 2020.

The latest news is that the UK has retained its position as the largest Internet economy in the G-20, according to research released today by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The sector has seen strong growth since 2010, but the research argues that fresh digital-policy commitments are needed to ensure this trend continues.

New research from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows that the Internet is now the UK’s second-biggest economic contributor behind the property sector, having overtaken manufacturing and retail. BCG expects the Internet economy to contribute £180 billion to the overall economy in 2015, up from £120 billion in 2010. At 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), this is a larger percentage than in any other G-20 country. By 2016, the Internet economy will be contributing 12.4 percent of GDP in the UK, compared with a G-20 average of 5.3 percent.

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“Among G-20 countries, the UK’s digital economy is the largest as a proportion of GDP, and we expect the UK to retain its position,” said Paul Zwillenberg, a BCG partner and digital economy expert. “The Internet economy in the UK, which includes online retailing, sales of Internet-related devices, IT and telecommunications investments, and Internet-related government spending, is expected to grow to more than £200 billion over the life of the next government and to double in size from 2010. But other G-20 members with rapidly growing online-retail sectors, such as China and South Korea, are closing the gap.”

The Skills Gap

Go On UK,  is warning of a threat to economic growth, productivity and social mobility if we don’t close the skills gap.

Consider the threat to jobs from the advance of artificial intelligence.

It is low-skilled work and people most under threat from automation, and digital knowhow will be vital if those people are not to be left stranded as the hi-tech tide sweeps on.

TekSystems researched the issue amongst CIOs and found both IT leaders and IT workers agree that skills matching is difficult — 81 percent of IT leaders indicate it is extremely or moderately difficult to find quality candidates and 73 percent of IT professionals say it is extremely or moderately difficult to find positions for which they are qualified. Sixty three percent of IT professionals surveyed cite unrealistic technical expectations as the biggest challenge to finding a job.

“The survey reinforces what we already suspected: The IT skills gap is real and is having a significant impact on organisations’ abilities to be successful — it can lead to a vicious cycle of lower employee morale, inefficiency and attrition,” says Jason Hayman, TEKsystems Research Manager.

What this evidence that IT and Digital Technology recruitment is the sector to be in for the next 5 years certainly and niche’s such as IT/Cyber Security, Business Intelligence, Big Data, Mobile App development, Front-end development and Networking and Infrastructure are the hot sectors with such skills as Grunt, React, Bootstrap, SASS and Apple Swift all set to become highly sort after hard skills in 2016 according to Technojobs.

Read the BCG press release here and the BCG slide deck here

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