One in four employers face shortage in basic digital skills

Nearly a quarter of employers say their workforce lacks the basic digital skills they need, while a report finds the education system is not sufficiently meeting this demand.

Although 92% of organisations state that having basic digital skills is important for their employees and four in five job vacancies require them, 23% are facing a significant gap according to a report from three skills organisations.

It defined basic digital skills as having a proficiency with common software such as Microsoft Word and Excel; the ability to communicate digitally; the ability to process digital information and content; and the ability to learn new digital skills.

Advanced digital skills – such as having an in-depth knowledge of areas like computer-aided design or coding – are becoming increasingly important, with 27% of employers requiring the majority of their workforce to have these abilities and 60% expecting their reliance on advanced digital capabilities to increase in the next five years. However, 37% say their workforce lacks these skills.

Although 88% of young people recognise that these skills are important for their career, only 18% feel they have the advanced digital skills that employers need.

While take-up of computer sciences has grown at undergraduate and postgraduate level, participation in ICT subjects in school and further education has declined, the research by the Learning and Work Institute, education consultant WorldSkills UK, and engineering skills advocate Enginuity claims.

Since 2015 there has been a 40% decline in pupils taking ICT subjects at GCSE.

As a result, less than half of employers think young people are leaving full-time education with sufficient advanced digital skills.

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