Half of UK employees lack vital digital skills

Reboot Online Digital Marketing Company found that many workers in the UK cannot deal with privacy settings, spot viruses or use the internet.

Joe Lepper | 8th Aug 19
Image of a person learning from a computer, representing digital skills

The latest research has laid bare the extent of digital exclusion in the UK, with more than half the country’s workforce lacking essential digital skills.

Analysis by online digital marketing company Reboot found that 53% of employees lack the vital digital skills needed for their work.

It found that 38% cannot use the internet to find information that helps solve problems and 40% cannot recognise and avoid suspicious links and pop ups on a computer screen.

In addition 44% cannot set privacy settings on work-related social media and other accounts, according to the Reboot analysis of data found in the UK Consumer Digital Index by Lloyds Bank.

> See also: Why the charity sector needs digital skills: infographic

Improving work prospects, managing health and saving money are among the key benefits highlighted by Reboot of ensuring the UK population is equipped with digital skills.

Digital skills gap

Among those in the digital sector to comment on the findings is Martin Calvert, Director of agency Blueclaw.

He said: “We work in a very technical industry, with a lot of specialist software and tools so we don’t expect new team members to know everything. Even so, when bringing early-career employees on board, there can be some surprising gaps.

“We always need to be looking for new ways to get better at what we do, so regardless of where the team member is in their career, it’s vital that we’re open and honest about how we can help them to work more effectively with the right technology. In that sense the most important digital skills is more of a trait – openness to new ways of working, a willingness to learn, and a willingness to teach us too!”

Alan Bryant, Strategy Lead at Livity added: “We’ve found that young people who are new to the workplace don’t necessarily lack the basic digital skills required but do miss some of the soft skills around elements like email etiquette.

> See also: Charity trustee IT skills dropping, reveals Charity Digital

“Young people have native digital skills, having never known a world without ‘digital’. But we are seeing a lack of motivation to learn specific digital skills for growing career areas such as data analysis. We have found part of the problem here is labelling these areas as ‘digital skills’ which simply doesn’t mean anything to a generation who don’t differentiate between digital and non-digital life.

The pace of change in digital roles and skills also means that many educational establishments struggle to keep up. This is particularly true in a school where a syllabus can be out of date before it’s even begun. Then team with a lack of trained teachers from ‘digital’ backgrounds, and you can start to see why the digital skills gap exists”

This month the National Lottery Community Fund handed £3.3m in funding to The Rank Foundation to help expand its leadership programme. This helps develop skills with charities in areas such as IT systems, social media and research.

Want to stay on top of the latest tech news in the third sector?

Get top insights and news from our charity digital experts delivered straight to your inbox three times per week.

Subscribe