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17.1 million Brits lack essential digital skills for work

Only 23% of surveyed employees received any digital skills training from their employers

Over 17 million people in the UK lack essential digital skills (EDS) for work, while less than a quarter (23%) of employees reported having received any digital skills training from their employer.

That's according to a new report released by FutureDotNow, a coalition of companies and civil society groups working in collaboration with the UK government to boost the nation’s digital skills. 

The coalition, which counts BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, Dropbox, CompTIA, and BT among its members, defines EDS as accessing payslips, booking shifts and leave, avoiding social media disasters, basic password practice, using cloud storage, analysing data, synchronising information across multiple devices, as well as basic cyber security skills such as being able to identify suspicious emails

All of these are not being addressed by the majority of UK organisations, the report has found. It also warns businesses of the risks presented by the lack of EDS among employees, such as slowing the adoption of digital processes, which negatively impacts business productivity and financial performance. This, in turn, leads to businesses being held back and the UK’s global competitiveness reduced.

FutureDotNow chief executive Liz Williams said that the report “reveals a hidden middle between digital exclusion and advanced digital skills which needs addressing urgently”.

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“There’s a significant part of our workforce without the essential digital skills required for the new global digital world we’re competing in. Great businesses are underpowered like smartphones with a flat battery because their workforces lack these essential digital skills.

"FutureDotNow and its members, who are already seeing the power of working together to upskill their employees, will be able to help them take action. And our Playbook, launched today is a practical guide to identifying missing essential digital skills and how to go about upskilling employees,” she said.

According to techUK president Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, the pandemic has revealed “an increase in people wanting and needing to acquire essential digital skills”. 

“This has created positive momentum in driving the UK’s digital adoption which we must maintain in order to address the growing mismatch in the demand and supply of digital skills in the UK. FutureDotNow’s initiative to encourage business leaders to share knowledge and skills is critical to ensure the country and our citizens are ready for what comes next,” she added.

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