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There's a severe digital skills gap in UK

by on21 August 2020

Mind the Gap

The latest research by Hays Learning found employers have struggled to fill one third of vacancies due to a lack of digital competency.

In the UK, 62 percent  of employers admit their workforce only has some of the skills required or face severe shortages. Whilst 15 percent of employers say they do not have the digital skills to meet organisational objectives, highlighting a significant discrepancy between the types of skills on offer versus those in demand, the report said.

Employers are emphasising the need for ‘specific digital skills’ over ‘baseline’ such as the ability to use Microsoft Word or Excel. However these skills such as Adobe Photoshop or customer relationship software are hard to find.

A government report revealed that around 82 percent of all jobs in the UK list digital skills as a requirement. They pay 29 percent more, on average, than those that do not require these skills (£37,000 vs £28,000 a year).

These are the five industries with the highest digital intensity, ranked according to the percentage of job advertisements in occupations requiring specific digital skills:


% of Job Ads requiring Specific Digital Skills

 Finance & Insurance


 Information & Communication


 Real Estate


 Science & Tech


 Admin & Support Services


The Finance & Insurance sector is leading the way in digital preparedness through recruiting employees with specific digital skills, along with employers in Information & Communication, Real Estate and Science & Tech.

While 38 percent of UK employers say they have all the skills they need to meet their organisational objectives, at 62 percent the majority admit their workforce only has some of the skills required or face severe shortages. 

According to a Hays survey of 14,500 employers and professionals, those in the private sector are better prepared for digital transformation than the public sector. Around two-thirds of private-sector employers say they have access to all or some of the skills they require, compared to only 56 percent of public sector employers.

While the overall attitude towards digital literacy skills in the workplace is positive – 78 percent of employers and 69 percent of staff have an open mindset towards digital transformation in the workplace – they do not feel well-equipped or prepared to deal with this transformation.

The top challenges employers face in the journey to a more digital and automated workplace are:

  • Lack of skills from current staff: 58 percent
  • Lack of support from staff: 37 percent
  • Additional budget needed: 31 percent
  • New processes required: 26 percent
  • Difficulty integrating with existing processes: 25 percent


Last modified on 21 August 2020
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