Business leaders confident the digital skills gap is closing, says Deloitte

According to the latest Digital Disruption Index by Deloitte, business leaders believe the digital skills gap is narrowing but still persists from classroom to boardroom.

The research is based on responses from 158 digital leaders from FTSE-listed companies, large private companies and large UK public sector organisations with a combined market value of £1.38 trillion.

According to the study:

  • 18% of respondents believe that school leavers and graduates have the necessary digital skills and experience, up from 12% six months earlier;
  • 25% of digital leaders in the UK think their workforce has sufficient expertise to carry-out their digital strategy;
  • 49% do not have a policy in place to ensure the safe and ethical deployment of AI and data-driven technologies, however existing organisational values mean these policies are not always a necessity.

More needs to be done

Despite business leaders thinking the level of expertise amongst new and existing recruits is improving, Deloitte found that many feel more needs to be done if businesses are to keep up with the pace of new technologies available to the workplace.

As many as three-quarters (75%) of digital leaders in the UK report that technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things, are fundamentally changing their organisation.

According to Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, a partner at Deloitte: “The simple truth is that without ensuring that teams have the right experience, knowledge and abilities to make the most of these technologies, these investments will prove worthless.

“While it’s promising to see improvements in leaders’ confidence in their workers’ digital abilities, there is a lot more that still needs to be done and, if left unaddressed, the skills gap could grow to a level that’s hard to fill. Failure to do more to educate both those in the workforce and those in the classroom will leave the UK trailing behind our global peers in the rapidly expanding digital economy.”

Prioritising skills in the digital age

The demand for skills is changing and in the workplace environment it is important to find the right balance between ‘soft and hard skills’

Digital confidence grows among business leaders

Digital leaders are also more confident in their own digital skills, according to Deloitte. 60% of executives are confident in their own digital skills and ability to lead in the digital economy, up from 45% who said the same six months earlier.

Vernon-Harcourt added: “Confident digital leaders are more likely to want to learn more about the technology around them. A huge amount of content is easily available for leaders to strengthen their understanding of digital technologies, the key is to make these easy for them to access.

“To successfully lead an organisation in the digital economy, leaders need to invest huge amounts of energy into learning about new technologies, challenging how these could improve their business and have the confidence to take the lead in driving change.”

Gartner warns skills shortage could hamper digital transformation efforts

Gartner says only 20% of employees have the skills needed for both their current role and their future career

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future