Digital skills shortfall?

With Adult Learners Week coming up, it would be remiss not to look at the need to continually keep the brain ticking over. So how up-to-date are your digital skills? For life in the 21st century they are becoming (have already become?) a must-have, especially to gain employment.

Recently BCS undertook a survey which found that, whilst 81 per cent of employers require their workforce to have digital skills, only 52 per cent believe that their workforce has the ones needed to meet their future challenges. From the enterprise perspective it is important: increased efficiency as enabled by IT, is seen as the most important employee skill - 68 per cent of respondents ranked it in the top two.

What skills?

It’s not all Word, Excel and data manipulation that are in demand. Some 71 per cent of respondents clearly want some twittering, facebooking, beboing and other social media-verbing, as they rate social media skills as ‘very’ or ‘quite’ important for the majority of roles.

But, as you would expect, the Institute’s survey of HR professionals and employers showed that email, word processing and spreadsheet skills are considered vital for the majority of roles in the work place, with 97 per cent of respondents rating email skills as either very or quite important; and 92 per cent and 89 per cent rating word processing skills and spreadsheet skills respectively, the same way.

And, quelle surprise, employers want those skills now.

As Jon Buttriss, CEO of BCS Learning & Development says: ‘Employers want people to have the skills to be able to walk into a role and be productive straight away. Our findings showed that employers believe that a main benefit of these skills for the individual is increased efficiency, while the organisation benefits from increased productivity.’

Unfortunately there are still 11 million people or so in the UK without basic digital skills. To effectively compete globally, UK PLC must have an IT and digitally literate population.

Getting the skills

As Jon Buttriss concluded: ‘If you want the best chance of getting a job, you need to prove to prospective employers that you have the skills they want.’

The Institute is working with IT qualification providers and trainers across the UK, to help people gain the skills they need and meet employer’s expectations. And BCS staff members have got on-board, creating a warts and all, fun video with tips on using Word and Excel. Check out the video

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  • 1
    Lloyd wrote on 27th Jun 2014

    It doesn't matter what level you are at - working with IT requires constant learning of new skills, whether you are using office software, programming languages, databases, operating systems or associated infrastructure. It doesn't matter how much of an 'expert' you are in your area, those skills go out of date and employers will just buy in the expertise rather than pay the high costs of training people or allowing them to learn on the job.

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About the author

Brian is Head of Content at BCS and blogs about the Institute’s role in making IT good for society, historical developments in computing, the implications of CS research and more.

See all posts by Brian Runciman

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