Employees across all ages in the UK – not just Millennials – have significant influence within businesses to drive digital transformation, according to new research from VMware.
This comes at a time when digital skills are becoming more critical to delivering business growth and competitive advantage.
The study of 5,700 employees across Europe, the Middle East and Africa – 1,000 in the UK – found that, far from being confined to the Millennial or Generation Z demographics, digital skills are a priority for all employees, impacting both their own career development and the broader business.
Recognised benefits of the widespread use of digital skills by UK employees include improving the competitive edge of an organisation (75%) and increasing revenue/profitability for the business over the next five years (69%).
Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents, meanwhile, said it enables greater collaboration between colleagues.
With 61% of UK employees willing to use their own time to learn new digital skills and ways of working, the recognition of the role digital skills can play, and the appetite for learning these, is evident.
Furthermore, older generations of the workforce are actively pursuing more technical digital skills, with 35% of 45-54 year olds and 23% of over-55s seeking advice or training on designing and building mobile applications. Almost half (47%) of the 45-54 year olds surveyed are doing the same for coding and creating online content.
Despite this recognition by employees, only half of today’s UK workforce believe they are able to fully use their digital skills within their organisations.
Barriers to realising employees’ full digital skills are due to a complex range of reasons, including ‘digital’ not being integrated into personal objectives (60%), a lack of budget (44%) and adequate support from IT (41%), and company policies being too restrictive (40%).
Digital training and development
Despite digital skills being a priority across all age groups, 42% of respondents aged 18-24 in the UK believe that senior management does not understand the business's technology infrastructure enough to support their digital skills within the workplace.
This was the highest percentage across any age group (30% of respondents aged over 55 believed this), implying that there is a possible disconnect between those entering the workforce and senior management.
In addition, UK respondents identified more investment in formal training to further develop digital skills (56%), better recognition for using digital skills (44%), and the development of a culture that better embraces digital skills (47%) as priority areas to focus on.
“Successful digital transformation in today's business world is shaped by culture, people and capabilities,” said Joe Baguley, VP and CTO at VMware EMEA. “UK enterprises are rightly investing heavily in ‘digital’ talent as they look to harness the key skills and capabilities that can help organisations innovate faster and fully engage customers – both of which impact an organisation’s bottom line.”