The UK is witnessing a widening digital skills gap which will see organisations investing in a race for digital talent over the coming years. Now is therefore the time for organisations to ensure they’re upskilling their talent within with crucial skills, as well as hiring the right digitally experienced and skilled talent for tomorrow’s needs.

A recent report from Microsoft found that 69% of UK leaders surveyed believe their organisation currently has a digital skills gap, with 70% expecting to experience one over the next year. 

Many organisations, over the past year, have realised that they have a digital skills gap to fill and have subsequently been looking to remedy this. More businesses are looking to hire digital talent – in fact we have seen a 100% uptick in open digital roles vs last year and our sister company Hannington Tame has just started to work another full digital transformation project with a new client.

Whilst the widening digital skills gap was of some concern pre-pandemic, the pace of change to working practices and urgent need to get businesses online since then has exacerbated the issue. Digital transformation projects have not only increased but also sped up, and while some organisations have adapted well, others are still struggling to meet today’s demands.

One of the biggest challenges to this widening skills gap is the pace at which change is happening: The world as we know it today did not exist before the iPhone launched in 2007. Instagram launched in 2010 and TikTok, which now has 800m users launched in 2016. 30% of product searches now happen on Amazon and Google constantly changes its algorithm – indeed, what businesses will be facing in 12 months will be very different to what businesses are facing today, so it’s also crucial to have people that are adaptive and can keep pace with this rapid change.

So how can you ensure you’ve got the right digital talent in place in your business? This comes down to two key areas; upskilling and hiring smartly. Importantly, there needs to be a greater understanding at board level of what digital skills are required for their company in order to set long term digital strategy. Too many organisations don’t see the full picture – although many are now dipping their toes in the water by hiring digital talent at a junior level first.  However, digital leadership at C-level will be essential if organisations are going to succeed in the future.  

Those who are progressing with digital projects more successfully are those who have brought in digital skills at both a senior and junior level and the more experienced individual/s can also ensure upskilling is happening within the business. For those businesses that don’t know the specific skills they require, working with a specialist recruiter or talent acquisition expert can work incredibly well – they understand the different roles that a business might need and can provide useful insight and advice when it comes to the collective team set up vs perhaps only looking at each role independently.

Secondly, there needs to be a change at a grassroots level: We need to see more university courses and white-collar apprenticeships emerging that cater for wider digital skills that will be required in years to come – those relevant for the ‘jobs of tomorrow’.

The Institute of Coding has a government-supported initiative upskilling people in digital skills and there are many more similar schemes out there. Many business leaders are aware of the digital skills gap, but now is the time to act, close the skills gap, remain competitive and ensure business success in this rapidly evolving world.

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