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HR In Crisis : Overcoming The Digital Skills Shortage

Posted by Kate Smedley on 26 Oct 2016

The UK's digital skills shortage has reached a critical point. A further 745,000 workers[1] are needed in the workforce by 2017 yet it lags behind on digital adoption and ranks highest in the world for digital pessimism. 

A new report [2] has revealed the extent of the current problem, including the following points:-

  • Over half of UK employees state that having the right technical skills is their biggest challenge.
  • One third (34%) of employees are not given sufficient (or any) training to gain maximum benefit from digital tools in the workplace.
  • Nearly a quarter felt that the training provided is either irrelevant or of a poor standard.
  • One third of UK workers stated that their stress levels increase when they are not equipped or able to use digital tools.
  • Around one fifth (21%) of employees leave their jobs because of the lack of digital tools.
  • A further report from Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index emphasises the obstacles facing small businesses. Over a third (38%) of SMEs lack basic digital skills, such as managing information and problem solving.

Digital maturity is vital for companies to gain a competitive edge, boost productivity and increase revenue. Employees who believe their employer is ‘ahead of the curve’ with technology are twice as motivated and creative – but only 15% of UK workers believe that the company they work for has reached that position.

The problem lies in the lack of investment. Only £109 is spent on digital training per employee per year but The Commons Science and Technology Committee report that the estimated cost of the digital skills gap amounts to £63bn per year in lost GDP. The issue is such that the government last week announced the appointment of its first director general for digital and media. One of the key aims of this role is ‘equipping British people with the skills they need to flourish in a digital world’.  

All UK employers can play their part with the following strategies:-

Understand what skills are needed in your organisation

Technology is disrupting the working environment and UK businesses are struggling to keep pace with change. A new LinkedIn report reveals the most in-demand skills in the UK for 2016. 9 out of 10 of those jobs required specific technical skils, with statistical analysis and data mining topping the list. The CBI also recommends the appointment of a Chief Technology Officer or Chief Digital Officer to drive strategy in larger organisations. People analytics will provide insight into the skills missing in your business.

Liaise with educational institutions

The specific type of skills needed to address the digital schools gap are not being effectively communicated. The Commons Science and Technology Committee found that only 30% of computer science teachers in schools have a relevant degree and just over one in 10 (13%) of computer graduates are still seeking a suitable position 6 months after leaving university. UK employers have a key role to play in ensuring that appropriate digital skills are being developed.

Develop your internal talent

The predicted shortage of 745,000 digital skills workers by 2017 means that HR must nurture its people now. A clear, relevant and personalised development plan is needed for all employees. Upskilling the whole workforce will encourage engagement and motivate staff to remain with your business. People over the age of 50 with technical ability are often directed to retirement planning rather than career development. With a digital skills crisis, HR cannot afford to overlook any experienced, qualified employees.

Tap into the gig economy

The gig economy has been getting a bad press recently but, when approached and managed effectively by HR, it provides businesses with essential talent and skills to address short-term needs. In the absence of a sufficient talent pool, it should form an integral part of hiring strategies. 

Pay attention to onboarding

Support talent management processes with integrated recruitment management software throughout onboarding, which should be considered part of the candidate experience. According to the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) one third of new employees plan to leave their job within twelve months and one in five are already actively looking for their next career move. People with digital skills are in high demand. Your talent acquisition strategy should include clear steps on how you intend to retain your new hire from the instant they accept your job offer.

Incorporate data platforms within HR technology

A recruitment management system with integrated applicant tracking software tracks candidate progress from the point of their first engagement with your business through to onboarding. From there, retention levels of new hires are monitored while the data gathered helps to analyse additional digital skills requirements and shape future talent management policies. 

Support your digital skills strategy with recruitment software used by some of the world’s leading organisations. Advorto’s technology provides your business to hire better people faster. Find out more. Contact us today.

You might also like to read:-

Data Driven Recruitment : What’s Holding HR Back?

10 Ways To Attract More Women Into Tech Jobs

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[1] Source :

[2] Source :

Topics: industry-article

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