Jason Fowler, HR Director, Fujitsu UK & Ireland

Today (24 Jun)  the Open University launched a new report looking at the impact of digital transformation on the workforce. The report, Bridging the Digital Divide found that nearly 90 per cent of organisations admit their staff lack digital skills.

With the pace of digital development rapidly accelerating, many organisations are currently considering how they can address digital skills shortages.

The Open University’s 2019 Bridging the Digital Divide report highlights the extent of digital skills gaps and the impact they are having on organisations and their employees. 

Currently, nine in 10 (88%) organisations admit they have a shortage of digital skills, which is already having a significant negative impact on productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.

The Open University is currently working with organisations and the government to support them in overcoming skills gaps in the workforce, and wider labour market, by developing high-quality apprenticeships and flexible degree programmes that meet their needs. 

The new report attempts to identify some solutions that can help organisations to build strategies for coping with the unpredictable and shifting needs of the digital economy.

Many organisations are starting to see the benefits of lifelong learning when it comes to digital skills. The majority (85%) of senior leaders agree that it will become necessary to move to a model of lifelong learning in future, where employees are constantly developing and building new skills.

And this also comes with other benefits, with employers reporting increased productivity (41%) and better engagement (31%) amongst those who have upskilled.

Jason Fowler, HR Director, Fujitsu UK & Ireland, said:

“Digital skills are key to driving effective change using technology, which is why it’s worrying to see that such a large proportion of organisations admit their staff lack digital skills. With the skills gap costing our economy £63 billion a year, there is an urgent need to funnel more efforts into investing in the UK workforce. If we don’t, there is a risk we won’t be able to keep up with the pace of change that is taking place.

“To sustain the competitiveness of the technology sector and to drive forward the UK economy, businesses, government and educational institutions need to come together to train and educate the current workforce and the next generation of workers so they are utilising new technologies and are ready for the jobs of tomorrow. Whether this is retraining programmes, apprenticeships, or public-private partnerships, there are many exciting and innovative pathways to ensure that the UK is digitally savvy.

“If we want to continue to see the UK as a ‘digital first’ nation we must ensure we are investing in all talent. From the current workforce to those at the very beginning of the journey, by developing the right skills we will be able to support the future digital economy.”

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