Two thirds of UK businesses see digital skills shortfall as biggest challenge in 2021

Major survey of large and medium sized UK businesses reveals a huge shortfall in digital skills amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to calls for increased training and support for workers

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 27 January 2021 13:20

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Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of businesses see a digital skills shortfall as one of the most significant challenges facing their company in 2021. This is according to new research from the FTSE 250 professional services firm, FDM Group. The data was obtained via a Censuswide poll of 200 business decision-makers in large and medium sized companies, which surveyed them on their attitude to hiring and improving IT and digital skills for 2021.

Interestingly, 77 per cent of decision makers admitted that they already have plans to increase digital skills training budgets this year to support continued remote working.

Additionally, 70 per cent plan to offer existing workers reskilling or refresher tech and IT courses, to help improve digital skills over the course of this year. Over two-thirds (68 per cent) also agreed that they will increase their IT headcount to support remote working, which appears to be a fitting investment, with nearly half (47 per cent) of decision makers revealing that they have no plans to return to the office until at least 2022, even if it is deemed safe to do so later in the year.

Rod Flavell, CEO for FDM Group, said: “The Covid-19 outbreak has wreaked havoc for businesses, with millions of workers missing out on vital digital skills development due to furlough and remote working constraints. With the added pressure of strict lockdown measures forcing many people to juggle childcare alongside their day job, companies need to move quickly to increase digital skills provision as a matter of urgency.

"With remote working now a key part of our daily lives, the need for every employee to be digitally adept, computer literate and cyber safer should be top of the boardroom agenda. That’s why business should seek to hire in the latest IT talent, to boost technology skills within the workforce and help aid a speedy recovery in increasingly challenging times.”

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