Firms urged to train existing staff to tackle skills crisis

workplace 2UK firms are being encouraged to look closer to home to tackle the digital skills gap – which it is claimed affects two-thirds of businesses – with a new analysis showing that nearly nine in ten British workers are keen to acquire tech expertise.

According to the 2023 State of Digital Adoption report from technology company Userlane, data analysis and interpretation skills are the most sought-after, craved by a fifth of the workforce (19%); this is followed by use of AI (17%) and knowledge of online learning platforms (17%).

The top motivations for employees to develop digital skills include a desire to increase productivity and efficiency (34%); keep up with tech advancements (33%); improve job security (29%); increase overall digital literacy (28%); and advance career and professional growth (28%).

The drive to improve their digital skillsets reflects the challenges employees currently face regarding digital adoption, the report maintains. Despite over half (53%) reporting their tech use has gone up in the past year, almost all (90%) are experiencing challenges using new applications in their work.

In fact, the report claims that the average UK employee is losing 2.33 hours a week due to these challenges, with 53% losing over an hour a week; a quarter have felt overwhelmed or stressed as a result.

Perhaps unsurprisingly this is having a knock-on effect; more that two-thirds (68%) of employees see stress-free tech use as important to their overall happiness at work, with a further 90% linking it to productivity.

Just over half (51%) reported that remote working has forced them to solve tech-related issues by themselves, while just one-in-six feels their business explains plans for digital transformation clearly enough.

Employees are also regularly asked by others for assistance with technology. Nearly half (46%) of Gen Z staff said they have been asked to help executives or higher-level management. Overall, employees are most likely to be asked for assistance by colleagues within their team or department (76%); friends and family (71%); and colleagues from other departments or teams (63%).

Userlane chief executive Hartmut Hahn said: “Employees want to stay on top of trends and take more responsibility for maintaining their digital skills. For business leaders, this is fantastic, but they must be prepared to offer the right support. This means taking the right approach to training. Our report shows that most employees prefer to apply digital skills practically – in other words, learn by doing.

“More and more business leaders are of the opinion that traditional classroom trainings, videos and user manuals, which can be expensive and cumbersome, are no longer practical – especially on a large scale. Instead, they need a people-focused, scalable approach to digital adoption, one which empowers employees to get familiar with tech at their own pace.”

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