Barclays survey: India leads the way in new digital age

Ashok Vaswani says traditional skills are less relevant
Ashok Vaswani says traditional skills are less relevant

Workers in emerging countries such as India and Brazil are more confident about digital skills than those in developed markets, a survey has found.

Research carried out by Barclays also showed that while 38 per cent of British workers said their employer offered training in digital skills, that figure is considerably higher in India (67 per cent), China and the US (both 48 per cent).

India also has the most number of school pupils proficient in coding, the Barclays Digital Development Index found. It carried out an assessment in 10 countries of workers’ digital skills and national efforts to drive a digital agenda for the workforce.

Estonia and South Korea came on top of the list, with the UK ranked fourth and India seventh. Sweden was placed fourth while China and the US were tied in fifth place.

Ashok Vaswani, the CEO of Barclays UK, said: “The old ways of doing things will become obsolete. Traditional skills are less relevant, and businesses grow or fail at speeds never previously thought possible.

“In this new world of disruptive innovation and digital advancement, it is those individuals, businesses and societies who have the greatest level of access, ability and understanding who will continue to prosper. Those which have the least will fall behind and find it progressively harder to catch up.”

Findings from the survey showed that workers in India were more confident of their digital skills in web search and evaluation, communication and collaboration, as well as protecting data and devices.

British workers rated themselves particularly poorly on researching and evaluating information and protecting data and devices (ninth in both cases).

The analysis is significant given the scale of online fraud in the UK. Last week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said almost six million fraud and cyber crimes were committed in 2015 in England and Wales.

In the area of content creation and coding, Indian workers were top of the list, while the UK was seventh. India produced the most school pupils with coding skills, almost 10 times as many as the US.

The survey found that there was a shortage of skilled IT teachers in Britain, and as a result there was an increased reliance on volunteers.

Hasan Bakhshi, senior director, creative economy and data analytics at Nesta, an innovation charity, said formal education was vital for developing digital empowerment among citizens and workers:

“Digital education starts in the home and in school,” he said.

“We have seen a number of positive changes in recent years, in the implementation of the computing curriculum and the proliferation of coding clubs. Still, more can be done to keep the UK competitive globally, and some of these things involve thinking of the different digital skills the economy requires.”

According to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the digital skills gap is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP.

Last year, the House of Lords Select Committee warned Britain must address its digital skills shortage or face losing its place as a global digital leader.