Two thirds of British firms unable to fill digital positions: Study

BRITISH companies expect digital skills need to improve further in the next three years and less than a third are confident of being able to meet those needs, latest study showed.

New research published by India’s Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) focuses on the UK’s rapidly accelerating digital talent gap.

The UK is losing out an estimated £63 billion a year as companies struggle to find people with digital skills, the study showed.

Over two thirds (67 per cent) of companies across the UK have unfilled digital vacancies, while one in five firms is unable to find employees with basic computer skills – including writing documents and using spreadsheets.

Larger firms (60 per cent) also agreed their digital skills needs were set to skyrocket over the next three to five years but less than a third (31 per cent) are confident that the UK business community will be able to access the digital skills required.

Gopalan Rajaopalan, head of TCS Scotland said: “The digital economy is a significant contributor to Scotland’s growth, local employment and to the wider economy. While the sector is expected to see continued expansion, in order to maximise the opportunities it offers to Scotland, the growing skills gap highlighted in this report must be addressed.”

“TCS Scotland has been working to address this through a variety of initiatives such as our Digital Explorers and other STEM programmes to engage students and inspire the next generation to pursue a technology career.

“However, this new research with the CBI makes it clear that for the economy to remain competitive, it is important to continually invest in reskilling the current workforce and ensure students study the relevant courses to allow even more people to benefit from the great career opportunities in technology.”

The majority of companies surveyed are taking action to tackle their digital skills shortages, with over half or 56 per cent of businesses are confident they are spending enough on addressing their digital skills needs right now.

Advanced digital skills are in greater demand in all sectors, with 55 per cent of larger firms reporting challenges in recruiting software engineers and 61 per cent struggling to hire data analysts.

Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at CBI said: “Technology is changing the way we live and work, creating millions of jobs and adding £184bn to the UK economy. Yet this new data reveals the majority of firms are struggling to fill digital roles across all sectors and skills levels – with demand set to skyrocket in the next few years”.