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More than 40% of people in UK do not have digital skills required for most jobs

The digital skills gap is set to widen as many in the UK are without the basic skills needed for most positions, with jobs increasingly requiring above-average digital skills

More than 40% of people in the UK do not have the digital skills required by most jobs, according to research.

A study by Barclays has found that 43% of adults in the UK do not have basic digital skills, such as word-processing, database, spreadsheet or social media management skills, that are required by around 63% of jobs – and this gap is likely to worsen as technology advances.

“People’s level of digital prowess is fast becoming a key determinant of their earning power, yet the UK today is a patchwork of digital skills. Where you live, how old you are, what you do and your education level have an effect on your digital abilities and confidence,” said Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK.

Some areas in the UK are more digitally skilled, with those in London, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North West having more digital skills than in other regions.

Londoners were 6% more able to perform a range of digital tasks – such as using apps and devices, creating websites or sharing data on social platforms – than the rest of the UK.

Digital skills are most in demand in London and Northern Ireland, with 66% of jobs in London and 70% of jobs in Northern Ireland asking for “above basic” digital skills.

Wales and the South East, East, and South West of England are suffering from a significant lack of digital skills in comparison to the rest of the UK, despite the salaries for people with these skills being among the highest in the UK in these regions.

On average, research by Barclays found employers will pay up to £10,000 a year more for digital skills such as programming and software design, and £3,000 a year more for skills in graphic design, data and 3D modelling.

Many children believe they are gaining the digital skills needed for the workplace in schools, but those between the ages of 35 and 55 are particularly worried about their tech knowledge.

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Only 23% of adults in this age bracket are confident they can keep their digital skills up to date, and those between the ages of 35 and 44 are 11% less likely than millennial colleagues to say they are confident in their digital skills.

To ensure children are gaining the technology and digital skills they need for future roles, the government implemented a computing curriculum to teach children between the ages of five and 16 concepts such as coding and computational thinking.

But there are many concerns that these skills are not filtering quickly enough through the pipeline to fill digital skills gaps and, since the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, there has been an emphasis on building UK tech talent to fill empty digital roles in the future.

“At a time when wage growth is so important to families in the UK, we must act fast to improve our home-grown digital skills if the UK is to stay at the forefront of the global digital economy post-Brexit,” said Vaswani.

To ensure the UK stays on top of its digital skills needs, the government recently launched a survey aimed at finding out what skills employers are seeking now and what will be required in the future so plans can better reflect reality.

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