A lot of us perceive digital as something spurring society into the great beyond. Digital is acceleration. It’s innovation. Transformation, even.
However, the latest insights say differently. Unique new evidence shows that a huge skills gap remains in the UK. This is something we see and talk about all the time, but I was fascinated to dive into the detail about the needs of the employed population after attending FutureDotNow’s Accelerate 2022 event a couple of weeks ago.
The event highlighted how, by 2030, the digital skills gap is set to become our biggest skills gap in the workplace. That means that millions of people don’t, and won’t, have the ability to keep up with the ever-changing online world. FutureDotNow have illustrated this clearly in their new report on digital skills in the workforce – ‘Unpacking The Hidden Middle‘ – showing how many workers are not yet equipped with the very basic digital capability.
Last year, for example, 68% of the UK workforce were reported as unable to do one or more of the following tasks: check a payslip online; use collaborative tools to connect with fellow staff; and/or manage their privacy settings on social media.
And despite the Covid-19 pandemic progressing some workers’ digital skills, there are many people that remain digitally under-skilled. Nearly one in ten people currently in the workforce lack the very fundamentals of connecting to the internet. Even workers who are seemingly capable are part of a skills spectrum – some people can complete all 17 digital tasks deemed essential for work, whereas others can do just five.
Based on such findings, FutureDotNow has evolved a new working population dataset, focusing on the c.30.3 million people in the workforce who have at least the Foundation Level of Essential Digital Skills.
A call to action for business across the UK
The whole report is an easy read and full of distinctive insight. I found their four workplace personas, who represent a broader set of employees with specific skills, needs and motivation, especially interesting. These personas are vital in supporting us to shape our support to these people, and ensure they can grow their digital skills and confidence.
Take Digitally Lacking Lou, a persona that has a typically lower digital ability and is less likely to feel secure in their job, as an example. Lou represents almost 12% of the UK population.
Their seven key calls to action make it clear what an organisation can do:
- Share the report with your organisation’s senior leaders
- Prioritise cybersecurity
- Identify the digital skills gap in your organisation
- Acknowledge different user needs when designing your programmes
- Aim to build confidence, as well as capability
- Become part of the FutureDotNow movement
- Join the FutureDotNow Lighthouse Programme to take action fast.
Of course the biggest call to action is that all businesses and organisations have got employees with some digital skills gaps – and that’s something that all businesses and organisations can do something about.
If you’re interested in hearing more about FutureDotNow’s work head to their website. And for those businesses looking to really invest in closing the digital divide for good, do take a look at our new strategy too, launched last month.
We’re are looking for partners of all shapes and sizes to come on board and to help us take collective action to end digital exclusion – you can find out more here.