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Almost 70% of UK digital workers interested in expanding tech skills

Digital workers in the UK are interested in furthering their skills through training but feel time and money are holding them back

Almost 70% of UK workers in tech roles are interested in digital skills training, according to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Research from the cloud services provider, in partnership with Gallup, found 67% of digital workers want to gain more digital skills, but 93% of those who showed interest in training claimed there were obstacles in the way of gaining new skills.

Half of those wanting to expand their digital skills said they lacked the time needed to invest in new digital skills, 34% said they didn’t have the money, and 32% weren’t sure what skills they need to improve their careers.

Of those who were interested in gaining more digital skills, 56% said their current skillset was self-taught.

“This study shows that the UK could see a significant economic boost by enhancing the digital skills of its workforce,” said Chris Hayman, director of UK public sector at AWS.

“The study also shows a clear desire among UK employees to upskill to improve their career prospects and earning potential. UK businesses, and the government, must focus on making training and resources accessible to ensure the UK continues to be a leader in digital technology in order to realise the many benefits this provides,” Hayman added.

Not only do many people not have the basic digital skills needed for the workplace, but many still lack the basic digital skills to navigate an increasingly digital day-to-day life, unable to pay bills or shop online.

“The UK could see a significant economic boost by enhancing the digital skills of its workforce”
Chris Hayman, AWS

When it comes to those who do have digital skills, in many cases employers are still finding candidates don’t have the technical know-how necessary for specific jobs, leaving them fishing in the same small pool of candidates as other firms.

Employers are still finding it difficult to hire people with the skills they need, according to AWS, with 72% of firms looking for people with digital skills, but only 11% of UK workers having an advanced level of digital skills, including cloud and software development.

Of the 68% of businesses struggling to find digital workers, 45% said it was because of a lack of skilled talent in the job market.

If more people had these digital skills, the UK’s GDP could increase by £67.8bn a year as workers become more well-off and productive, AWS claimed.

On average, roles that ask for applicants to have 10 or more digital skills pay 48% more than jobs requiring no digital skills.

Read more about skills shortages

UK workers who already have skills in cloud and software development earn around 30%, or an average of £11,568 per year, more than those without digital skills.

AWS also found that those with a higher level of digital skills claimed to enjoy their jobs more than those with basic or mid-levels of digital know-how. Almost 60% of people with advanced digital skills said they were very satisfied in their job, versus only 43% of those with basic or mid-level skills. AWS suggested this was because they are better paid, more efficient and feel they are more likely to progress in their careers.

When it came to the people who already have digital or more advanced technical skills, 44% said their skills had made them more efficient at their jobs, half believed they were more likely to get a promotion and 42% were given a pay increase.

Almost all of the 33% of people who had participated in some form of digital skills training in the past year cited at least one career benefit that had come from it.

There will be a need for different digital skills in the near future, AWS said. When asked employers about 10 emerging technologies  – including 5G, cryptocurrency, machine learning and artificial intelligence, robotics, edge computing, quantum computing, augmented and virtual reality, digital twins, and the metaverse – 53% of business managers said at least one emerging technology was likely to be part of their business going forward, with 7% saying all 10 topics would become part of the business in the future.

But the research found emerging technologies are not fully understood by employees, with almost a quarter of people with at least basic digital skills saying they hadn’t heard of these technologies at all.

AWS has many programmes aimed at giving people technical cloud skills, including AWS Educate, AWS Academy and AWS re/Start programmes, through which it hopes 29 million people will be retrained by 2025.

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