How To Overcome Your Digital Skills Gap

victoria worrell

27th June 2016


It is always a challenge finding the right candidate to hire for a new role. It can be even harder when the skills that you require for the position are not being met by the applications that you are receiving. Since the budget for digital learning in education was cut by the government, the UK has seen a significant drop in the number of adults with the necessary skills to carry out roles that demand digital expertise. It’s now time for you to take control of the digital skill shortage by investing in your new and current employees in order to strengthen your team and bridge this gap with your company.

New research, which has been reported on by the BBC, has unveiled that there has been a dramatic drop in the number of people with competent digital skills. The assumption that the lack of digital expertise in industry is due to older generations has now been dispelled. With less than 50% of IT teachers having a relevant qualification this has caused doubt as to whether students are learning the necessary skills for employment.

With around 90% of jobs currently calling for a level of digital know-how in order to do the job and a severe shortage of skills in this area this begs the question; what impact will this have on your business when hiring, and how do you overcome it?

The lack of digital expertise in the younger generation

As a company you are always on the lookout for the next up and coming talent that will be able to provide fresh insight and new ideas to re-energise and transform your business. However, The Guardian reported that even though children are becoming ‘digital natives’, the generation who are now entering the job market are not equipped with the skillset required for the upcoming jobs that are appearing due to advances in technology.

The government has estimated that the UK needs 745,000 workers with a digital skillset in order to meet the need of companies by next year. When the demand is far greater than the supply you may need to change the way in which you attract new talent.

The need for training to attract and retain skilled employees

An estimated 12.6 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills but this does not mean that companies should worry that they will not be able to find the right candidate that ticks all of the boxes on a job spec. Investing in training means that you have the ability to employ someone that may not have all the credentials that you’re looking for at present, but given the chance to develop their skillset and experience they will be. When a company offers training it shows that they are willing to invest time in their employees to not only strengthen the business but their staff’s personal progression too.

Don’t be deterred by the common misconception that employees leave once they have been trained either. Continuous employee development has been proven to be key in regards to retention as people would rather grow in their role in their current company rather than searching for a new opportunity elsewhere.

The value of training

Technology has developed at a rate that doesn’t seem set to slow down, bringing with it new careers and skillsets that need to be covered within every business. Take social media, over the last five years it has turned into an intrinsic part of a company’s marketing strategy. If a business’s social presence appears outdated and not seen as innovative or ahead of the market, the brand will suffer. It is imperative that employees continually learn in order to keep up with the evolving trends and updates.

Training was slashed from budgets when companies needed to make cut backs due to the financial downturn which has now lead to the skills shortage. In order to make money, you need to spend money. Investing in employee training and development maybe a short term financial stretch but if the results are attracting the appropriate candidates, retaining your current employees and long term financial rewards within a stronger skilled business, the cost is necessary.

Transform the skill shortage into your own pool of talent

The news that basic digital skills are not being met amongst a vast majority of adults within the UK initially seems to create a barrier in finding the right candidate with all of the requirements that you are looking for. However, it should be seen as a chance to produce your own talent in-house with someone who is keen to learn and is ready to be build their career with you.

As a company you can take control of this shortfall, find the candidate that you see with the potential to develop and help to train and nurture their skills so that they learn and evolve as technology does. Not having the skillset does not hold people back, it’s the lack of education that does; you now have the opportunity to turn this around to benefit both the job market and your business.

At Just IT Recruitment, we can help you find the right talent with the skills that you are looking for. If you’re looking to overcome your digital skills gap and strengthen your team, give us a call today on 020 7426 9835.

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