In a recent study, the 2023 Consumer Digital Index by Lloyds Bank has revealed a startling dichotomy in the UK’s digital landscape. While the majority of the workforce possesses fundamental digital skills, a significant portion remains disinterested in upskilling. This disinterest poses a substantial challenge to organizations and the economy at large, especially in the context of the ever-evolving digital realm.
The report presents a mixed picture. On the bright side, 82% of the UK labour force, accounting for 33 million people, now have Work Essential Digital Skills (EDS), marking an increase from the previous year. Yet, a worrying trend emerges with 7.5 million people still lacking necessary digital skills, and a staggering 60% of workers showing no inclination towards enhancing their digital capabilities.
This reluctance to adapt is particularly concerning in areas crucial for the future of work, such as cybersecurity, programming, and software development. Only 12% of the workforce is considering learning these skills. Similarly, interest in client and finance management systems, as well as digital design tools, remains low.
Rob Benson from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority highlights the gravity of this situation. He stresses the importance of digital skills in the face of increasing reliance on digital technologies, AI, and automation. The solution, he suggests, lies in collaborative efforts between organizations, national governments, and education services to promote and facilitate digital skills learning.
Jan Levy of Three Hands points out the potential of utilizing popular platforms like YouTube and TikTok for digital learning, emphasizing the need for accessible and continual learning resources. This approach could be particularly effective in engaging younger demographics and addressing their unique learning preferences.
The report also uncovers significant gaps in digital capability across the UK population, particularly among the older working generation. While a majority are online, a quarter of the UK population has the lowest level of digital capability, with 70% of this group being over 60 years old. Sarah Parkes of Age UK suggests a learner-led and person-centred approach to encourage and support older people in acquiring digital skills.
The findings underscore a broader issue: the necessity of maintaining both digital and non-digital options to support those with limited digital access or skills. Organizations like Citizens Advice and Age UK are exemplifying this approach by offering both remote and face-to-face support.
The Workers Union Says…
“While progress has been made, the report highlights the urgent need for concerted efforts to bridge the digital skills gap in the UK. It’s a call to action for businesses, educational institutions, and government bodies to collaborate in equipping the workforce with the skills necessary to thrive in a digital-first world.”