Digital skills gaps remain prevalent across the business community; and they will only worsen if we do not actively seek a culture change now to create more upskilling opportunities for the current workforce.
These shortages are evident in many smaller organisations; brands, agencies and charities are all desperate for talent with a range of digital skills, and this need continues to grow, as does the skillsets that are desirable.
A recent UK SME survey found that 29% of those surveyed said the ongoing shortage of skilled workers poses a high or very high risk for their business – so much so that their digital modernisation ambitions have stalled, due to a lack of job-ready digital talent.
The latest expansion of government-funded upskilling programmes could help many of these organisations — even yours.
Data skills vital for customer relationships
Brexit, followed by Covid, and now high inflation has left many businesses, particularly SMEs, with limited training resources and it’s a brave organisation that chooses to invest precious funds and employee resource in such times.
Yet investing in your people and building greater data literacy and digital skills is exactly what will fuel growth. Beyond attracting and retaining the best talent, investing in data and digital skills will enable business to implement new technology, boost productivity and innovation.
In an age where technology and businesses’ digital requirements are rapidly evolving, the future success of SMEs will not just be dependent on investing in the latest technological advancements. It will require skilled personnel to interpret customer data, analyse trends and insights, enhance AI algorithms, and integrate the latest software into operations.
The Government has recognised SMEs’ rising demand thanks to industry bodies’, like the Data & Marketing Association (DMA UK), ongoing lobbying and has just expanded the skills portfolio of Skills Bootcamps accordingly.
There is a government-funded training programme launching in London and Leeds in October 2023 – the new Data Strategy, Analytics and Measurement Skills Bootcamps, funded by the Department for Education (DfE) through its Skills for Life Programme.
Data-driven marketing insights are essential for developing more meaningful relationships with customers, which leads to sustainable business growth — this is especially important with customer loyalty at an all-time-low due to rising consumer pricing sensitivity, as recent DMA research reveals.
This is a great opportunity for all types of organisations, as this type of government-funded training will help staff to better understand, acquire, and analyse their customers’ data insights, which is vital for enhanced customer engagement and retention.
Skills Bootcamps will help SMEs, many with limited training budgets, to upskill their staff with the essential skills they need to secure growth opportunities – SME employers will need to contribute just 10% of the fee and 90% will be government funded.
What makes Skills Bootcamps unique is that they are available and relevant to everyone within an SME – whether that be the owner trying to deliver meaningful growth for their business or a multi-tasking employee looking to better understand why data is an organisation’s greatest asset.
Take advantage while availability remains
It is important that the Government has listened to the data-driven marketing industry’s advice, as digital talent shortages continue to impede UK SME growth; so government-funded skills support remains essential.
There is a vast amount of talent out there within SME organisations ready to advance their digital skillsets, but talent must act now to take advantage of government investment while it is available – hundreds of SMEs have already signed up to other programmes which are making them more productive and effective.
A short-term investment of your precious time will lead to long-term results for the business; further information about these Skills Bootcamps can be found here.
Kate Burnett is general manager DMA Talent division