Digital Skills Gap: Business Owners, let’s step up to the plate!

This year, Apple has marked 10 years of the iPhone. Popular SMS platform, What’s App, has celebrated 8 and the World’s first true social media platform, Facebook, has reached 13.

When we sit, and take a moment to think about it – technology has completely transformed our world in just over a decade, so much so that we as humans just cannot keep pace.

Today, there are more smartphone subscriptions than people, with the average user picking up their mobile device 75 times per day, across a ‘normal’ three hours of screen time. However, our increased want to be connected via technology 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, has not only transformed how we talk and engage with one another, it has also transformed the wider world around us, and primarily our job roles – resulting in a cascading digital skills gap.

Each year, the digital skills gap costs the UK economy around £63 billion in lost income. This supported by the fact that 72 per cent of large firms and 49 per cent of SMEs continue to suffer skills shortages in their workforce.

With a lack of resource, has come a growth in ‘Jobs of the Future’, where millions of roles in Coding, Programming, Cyber Security and Digital Marketing are waiting to be filled across the globe.

Having recognised this issue for years, the Government has introduced a number of initiatives to help younger people develop their digital skillset, with coding lessons in schools representing a key example. But what about professionals in existing employment? Such as those nowhere near retirement, but nowhere near ‘digitally’ trained?

The real answer is for Business Owners to take control, support existing employees in digital training and development, and in turn protect both their workforce and business for years to come:

Skills development for all?

If the last decade has taught us anything, it’s that technology has the potential to grow rapidly – having created a whole new wave of industry and market sectors, which have become integral to the UK economy.

Alarming statistics aside, the Digital Skills Gap doesn’t just present problems, it also presents opportunity: An opportunity to advance our capabilities, expand our knowledge and challenge existing limitations. By helping employees develop their digital skillsets, business owners can bring both operations and workforce up to date, supporting professional development, whilst protecting their business for the long-term.

Transforming Opinions

In life, we often approach the unknown with caution – believing someone else will step up to the plate, leaving us in a state of comfort and tranquillity. But what if the task in hand needs everyone to take part?

This is how business owners should approach the digital skills shortage. Instead of spending time and money competing for limited resource, train and develop your own –  transform opinions, develop existing job roles and provide team members with the opportunity to learn something new and protect themselves against the advancing digital skills ‘threat’. Technology is now evolving at such a rate that no-one can afford to sit still. 

Don’t ignore the Apprenticeship Levy, use it!

The Apprenticeship Levy came into force earlier this year, and for businesses with a wage bill of £3 million per year, was perceived by many as another Employment Tax. The truth of the matter, is that the Apprenticeship Levy provides the UK Business sector with a pot of money to help train their existing workforce, with a whole host of digital related courses on offer!

For businesses required to pay the levy, this is one sure fire way of clawing that money back. For businesses that don’t, the levy pot is there to fund up to 90% of training opportunities, with many courses also available online, overcoming obstacles associated with time, accessibility and cost.

Click here to find out more.

Jazz Gandhum, CEO, e-Careers Limited.