Goverment Support needed to tackle Digital Skills Needs

7th April 2017

Digital skills are increasingly important to the operation of businesses in Scotland but companies are facing a shortage of skills in their workforce which is hampering productivity, according to a new survey conducted across the UK by the British Chambers of Commerce.

The findings, released today (Friday), found that 83% of firms say digital and IT skills are more important to their business than two years ago, with nearly half (44%) saying these skills are significantly more important.

However, the survey also found that more than 80% of businesses are facing a shortage of digital skills in their workforce, with 59% reporting a slight shortage, 20% a significant one and 4% a critical shortage.

The key findings of the survey are:

· The skills most important to companies are basic computer skills (75%), communicating and connecting through digital channels (73%) and management of digital information (72%)

· Skills shortages are having adverse effects on many firms including, increasing workload on existing staff (57%), causing difficulties in meeting customer requirements (38%), and higher operating costs (34%)

· Businesses regard a lack of time for staff training (45%), difficulty in identifying appropriate training (43%), and the high cost of training (33%), as the leading barriers to rectifying these shortages.

Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Digital skills are vital to growing productivity in Scotland’s businesses and to getting our economy back on track. Without access to the right skills, too many of our businesses will not reach their full potential.

“While the vast majority of businesses clearly recognise this fact, it is concerning that so many are reporting knowledge gaps and skills shortages that are having a direct impact on business. That is why it is important that our governments at a Scottish and UK level work harder to reduce business costs through taxation in order to free up the resources that businesses need to invest in these skills for the future.

“In addition, as the UK enters negotiation on our withdrawal from the EU, this survey underlines the vital need for the UK Government to put plans in place to ensure that our future migration strategy recognises this key skill shortage and enables businesses to access individuals with the talents that they need both from domestic and international markets.”

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