Blog / Insights

Digital Talent: Gap Or Chasm?

June 4, 2019

A new CBI/TCS report highlights the UK’s rapidly accelerating digital talent gap as new technologies transform the way we live and work. Delivering Skills for the New Economy, which surveyed 250 businesses, revealed that:

  • Over two thirds (67%) of companies across the UK have unfilled digital vacancies
  • Only a third (31%) are confident UK businesses will be able to access the digital skills they need in the next three to five years
  • Around 60% of larger firms surveyed said their digital skills needs are set to skyrocket over the next three to five years. While smaller businesses’ (69%) needs are likely to peak over the next year or two

The majority of companies surveyed are taking action to tackle their digital skills shortages with 56% of businesses confident they are spending enough on addressing their digital skills needs right now. But in reality, almost half (46%) are fishing in the same pool, by trying to hire outside of their organisation as the main way to access the digital skills they need.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said: “Technology is changing the way we live and work, creating millions of jobs and adding £184 billion to the UK economy. Yet this new data reveals the majority of firms are struggling to fill digital roles across all sectors and skills levels – with demand set to skyrocket in the next few years.

“Digital skills are absolutely fundamental to getting people ready for the future of work and helping companies make the most of the opportunities technology brings. It’s essential we tackle the UK’s digital skills crunch now to remain internationally competitive, and promote the UK as the number one place for businesses to invest.

Currently, one in five firms struggle to find employees with basic digital skills while advanced digital skills are increasing in demand across all sectors. 55% of larger firms are reporting challenges in recruiting software engineers and 61% are struggling to hire data analysts.

CBI recommendations include:

  • Government (DCMS/DfE) must set an ambitious target for the entire UK workforce to have basic digital skills by 2025 and work with businesses to engage with relevant academic and technical education institutions
  • Businesses must better understand their digital skills needs and coordinate with local policymakers, businesses and learning providers to create local skills provision that address their skills demands
  • Ensure digital skills are at the heart of the National Retraining Scheme, including targeted support for software engineering and data analysis skills

Matthew Fell added: “Firms are sounding the alarm in their struggle for digital skills and the uncertainty that brings. With companies fishing in the same pool for talent, there’s a clear need for businesses to diversify their hiring strategies and look for innovative ways to help their people improve their digital skills."

Our View

Graham Brown, Managing Director of Forces Recruitment Services, comments: "The CBI are entirely correct in underlining the ineffectiveness of firms fishing for talent in the same old pools. Forward thinking organisations who truly wish to bridge the digital skills gap need to think outside the box and consider new markets when hiring tech-savvy staff.

"At FRS, we hear on an almost daily basis from companies who have wasted large sums of money on bad hires - this is precisely why we created Right Hire, effectively an insurance policy against the cost of hiring the wrong person for the job."

For all the latest job vacancies and career advice sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter. To keep abreast of the latest trends, thinking, and opinion, sign up for our free e-bulletin.


Share This Post: