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BCC puts digital skills shortage back in the spotlight

The British Chambers of Commerce has warned that many SMEs are struggling to find staff with the right level of digital skills

One of the growing attractions of using a managed service provider is that it not only solves a technical issue but it can help ease a personnel headache caused by the skills shortage.

There is plenty of talk about Digital Britain with the government and a fair few lobby groups sharing their vision about how the country needs to make sure it has the right skills in the workforce to make sure the UK can fend off global competition.

The latest insight into the extent of the skills problem comes from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which has been looking into the state of businesses.

The organisation found that three quarters of businesses are facing a shortage of digital skills with 52% reporting a slight shortage, 21% a significant one and 3% were dealing with 'critical' shortfalls.

"The evidence is clear: better digital skills make firms more productive, and a lack of digital skills holds them back," said Dr Adam Marshall, director general, BCC.

He said that government could help and needed to be open minded about some of the digital skills having to come from overseas, which meant that there had to be a pragmatic immigration system.

But his also had some advice for business leaders themselves urging them to do more to face up to the need to take action around the digital skills issue.

"Businesses themselves need to do a lot more to tackle the digital skills shortages they face, and their leaders need to be alive to the fact that a failure to tackle this issue will have an impact on their bottom line. Too many firms are stuck in an unproductive cycle, where the failure to take action has serious consequences," he added.

Other voices also echoed the call to do more and for UK firms to embrace some of the latest technologies that are emerging that could have a real impact of productivity and performance.

“UK businesses are already seeing the contribution that AI and machine learning can offer, not to mention the opportunity to grow the economy using these skills and position ourselves at the forefront of the next phase of this digital revolution. The only way this will come to fruition is through education and training, ensuring we have the digital skills we need both within and entering our industry," said Caroline Worboys, deputy chair of the DMA.

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