Just over 30% of people over the age of 55 want to improve their digital skills in the hopes of new career opportunities before they retire, according to research.
Skills training organisation AND Digital found 31% of people aged 55 and over want new digital skills, but don’t have the support from the organisations they work for. Not only did 60% of people in this age range claim they have not received any new digital skills from their employer, but 19% said they lack the digital skills for the job they’re already doing.
Harriet Perks, London learning and development lead at AND Digital, claimed that to close the skills gap, employers need to help “to reduce the embarrassment and stigma all age groups feel around their capabilities and what they’d like to advance”.
She said: “Many organisations are missing an untapped opportunity to increase their digital capabilities by not nurturing existing talent and upskilling more mature employees in technical digital skills.
“It is vital that we build on the valuable experience in human skills, such as communicating with empathy and problem solving, that many mature workers have accrued during their careers and can bring to existing digital teams.”
Tech skills shortages are an ongoing problem for businesses in the UK – a majority of businesses have admitted to encountering difficulties finding skilled workers over the last few years, while others have claimed this lack of skilled workers is stopping their organisations from getting things done.
But when it comes to tackling these skills gaps, there are many things to consider, including the fact millions of workers lack digital workplace skills – something the government hopes can be solved in the future with a focus on lifelong learning and training.
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Inclusion issues in the tech sector also plays a role, with age discrimination still an ongoing problem in the industry.
AND Digital points out 81% of managing directors said a lack of digital skills is impacting the workplace, and it’s estimated 61% of business growth will be dependent on digital.
Ensuring current employees have the appropriate skills to help push forward business growth could contribute towards solving the shortages, but many workers don’t feel comfortable asking for new skills.
Just under 30% of people who are 55 and over want to improve their skills but are daunted by the idea of asking their employer to help, and 40% of employees who are between 18 and 34 are embarrassed by their lack of digital skills because they feel the younger generation is expected to know more.
But AND Digital’s research suggested different approaches are needed to cater to upskilling these different age groups – 45% of the older age group want to be taught new skills on the job as opposed to 38% of the younger age group.
Just under a quarter of the younger age group would like to learn new skills by reading and consuming content, as opposed to just 11% of the older age group.
As skills gaps continue to pose a problem, internal training has been seen as a way to fill technology skills gaps, upskilling current employees with the knowledge they need for roles, rather than competing with other companies in the smaller pool of existing tech talent.