The UK’s need for digital skills is growing. But with Brexit on the horizon, and a misaligned educational curriculum, Britain could be facing a sizeable digital skills gap. There are indications that companies are already struggling to recruit workers with the relevant digital capabilities, so employers may need to invest in staff training to future-proof their businesses.

Brexit tech skills shortage

The media is filled with predictions about how Brexit could affect the economy. While it remains something of an unknown quantity, what we do know is that EU migrants have already started leaving the UK. According to The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), this has led to 40% of employers having more problems filling vacancies than they did last year.

Forbes predicts the financial technology sector could be one of the hardest hit. Large banks are becoming more tech-orientated in order to keep up with startups offering digital versions of their products. The pace of development in the financial sector means demand for digital skills is already far out-stripping supply. And as more EU workers are expected to leave Britain in the coming years, employers in the sector are likely to find it even harder to recruit.

Several major banks have confirmed that they will be moving before Brexit. However, it is hoped that for those that remain, a greater emphasis will be placed on staff training and development.

The role of schools in digital learning

The British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) has warned that a lack of digital education is a threat to the UK’s growth. The UK’s digital economy as a whole is currently booming – in fact, it’s growing 2.6 times faster than other industries.

However, a survey by BIMA found that 70% of teachers believe there’s too little focus on digital skills in the National Curriculum. BIMA Co-President Natalie Gross said: “Young people continue to miss out on opportunities to have progressive, lucrative careers in the digital and technology sector…because of an inadequate curriculum and a lack of awareness for the opportunities that are available. [It’s] a lethal combination that will serve to stifle the growth of the British economy, at a time when we most need growth and confidence.”

To address this, BIMA launched Digital Day, an event that links schools with the digital tech industry. They hope to raise awareness among pupils and teachers of the potential opportunities on offer within the sector. BIMA is also calling for a review of the National Curriculum, as well as a national communications campaign to inspire young Brits to learn these vital skills.

How staff training can bridge the digital skills gap

Employers have a large role to play in improving the digital skills outlook. According to HR News, equipping employees with the relevant knowledge and expertise is the quickest way to close the digital skills gap. Companies, they claim, must work in partnership with industry experts to develop training programmes, while also recruiting people who have the desire to learn and grow in this area.

According to a US article by Training Industry, companies need make digital skills training available to all, not just those in tech-focused roles. Jake Schwartz, CEO of General Assembly, told Digital Industry: “Every employee needs a variety of modern skills. For everyone from entry-level hires to the C-suite, being tech- and data-literate is an integral part of the job description.

“HR and L&D,” he went on to say, “will need to get creative in how they source talent and redesign workforce training models to ensure their employees stay up-to-date on the latest digital skills.”

Conclusion

In conclusion, businesses need to take a long-sighted approach in order to thrive. This includes:

  • Engaging with young people before they enter the workplace, to build confidence and inspire an interest in digital learning;
  • Recruiting workers who have a genuine desire to learn and engage with digital technology;
  • Partnering with training specialists and industry experts to provide training programmes;
  • Training staff at all levels, not just those in senior, tech-focused roles.

Knight’s Agency provides expert training on a wide range of subjects, tailored to your requirements. Get in touch via the form below, or call 0207 112 8412 to find out how we can help with your staff training needs.