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Half of Brits ‘don’t have the digital skills employers need’

15 Sep 2017 By Hayley Kirton

Generation X most likely to worry their tech knowhow isn’t sufficient

Almost half (43 per cent) of UK adults don’t possess the digital skills required by most job vacancies, research published today has found.

The study by Barclays, which surveyed 6,000 adults and assessed 88,000 job adverts, revealed that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of jobs now require digital competencies such as word processing, database, spreadsheet or social media skills, but many UK jobseekers failed to match up.

“People’s level of digital prowess is fast becoming a key determinant of their earning power, yet the UK today is a patchwork of digital skills,” said Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of Barclays UK. “Where you live, how old you are, what you do and your education level have an impact on your digital abilities and confidence.”

However, Barclays also discovered that employers were willing to pay a premium for those workers whose IT skills went beyond the basic and included programming and software design. Staff with these skills can typically expect to command £10,000 more per year than less tech-savvy job hunters.

An earlier study by the CIPD and Hays, published in June, found that nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of HR professionals thought the competition to snag top talent would escalate post-Brexit. More than half (54 per cent) of those surveyed also felt the demand for digital skills would increase over the course of the next year.

Meanwhile, the most recent Report on Jobs from IHS Markit and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), published earlier this month, revealed that staff vacancies had risen at their quickest rate for 28 months, with the steepest rise among IT and computing roles.

“In addition to a shortage of workers to meet demand, there’s an issue around the skills and capabilities of the UK workforce,” Tom Hadley, director of policy at the REC, told People Management. “Our data consistently shows a shortage of people with IT and digital skills in particular.”

According to the Barclays study, those in generation X – defined as people aged between 35 and 54 – were the most likely to worry that their digital skills were not up to scratch, with just 23 per cent feeling confident in their ability to keep their digital skills up to date, compared with 28 per cent of their millennial colleagues.

However, a separate study, published earlier this week by the EY Foundation and the School to Work campaign, found that half (50 per cent) of small and medium-sized employers did not believe young people had the necessary soft skills, such as resilience, communication and problem-solving, to succeed in entry-level roles.

Meanwhile, a survey released earlier this month, of 1,000 graduates and 1,000 senior staff by totaljobs and Milkround, revealed that three-quarters (73 per cent) of graduates expected to make an immediate impact on the organisation hiring them, but only a fifth (19 per cent) of senior staff believed graduate hires entered their jobs with enough experience to do well in the role.

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