Digital skills shortages remain an obstacle for the UK
Training and Development

Digital skills shortages remain an obstacle for the UK

For more than two decades, a lack of technical expertise has fuelled skills shortages across the UK, according to a comparative analysis of the professional jobs market by The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo). APSCo compared data from similar studies in 1999 with research from The Edge Foundation in 2019 and found that digital technical skills shortages had significantly hampered business in the UK over the 20-year period.

The Edge Foundation study found that as much as 51% of employers have been forced to leave a role open because there are no suitable candidates available, and that tech job vacancies are costing the UK economy £63 billion a year.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, said in a statement: "While the specific skills that employers are seeking have changed dramatically over the past two decades, the fact that talent gaps continue to be aligned with technical competencies suggests that we need to do more to boost Britain's digital capabilities. As this data indicates, for the past 20 years we have been playing catch-up - and we must break the cycle if individual businesses, and the wider UK economy, are to fulfil their full potential."

This seems to be echoed by similar studies. Salesforce commissioned a survey that polled employees on retraining and what skills are needed for the future. The findings are clear: digital skills will play an important part in the success of global Britain according to 67% of respondents. Yet, 56% of them feel pressure to retrain to respond to the pace of digital transformation in the workplace.

Low unemployment but high demand

Peter Linas, EVP of Corporate Development and International at Bullhorn, explained: "The UK's job market has seemingly reached a bit of an impasse - on the one hand, unemployment is at a 45-year low, but on the other hand, demand for specific digital skills remains high. A significant proportion of the UK's digital talent pool is already in employment, and they won't necessarily be tempted to move jobs on a frequent basis.  As a result, it's now more important than ever to maximise the potential of existing talent through reskilling - and this refers to both current and future staff members."

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Bianca Wright

Bianca Wright is a UK-based freelance business and technology writer, who has written for publications in the UK, the US, Australia and South Africa. She holds an MPhil in science and technology journalism and a DPhil in Media Studies.

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