Firms confident that digital skills gap is getting narrower

News by Rene Millman

Deloitte's Digital Disruption Index finds that more graduates have the right skills but gap still persists

A growing number of business leaders think that school leavers and graduates have the right digital skills and experience, according to a new report.

The latest Digital Disruption Index by Deloitte found that firms’ confident in new entrants to the workplace has improved in the last six months. Eighteen percent of digital leaders believe that school leavers and graduates are entering work with the right digital skills and experience, up from 12 percent who said the same six months earlier.

The research is based on responses from 158 digital leaders from FTSE-listed companies, large private companies and large UK public sector organisations with a combined market value of £1.38 trillion.

The report said that a quarter of respondents (25 percent) said that their current workforce has sufficient knowledge and expertise to execute their organisation’s digital strategy, an increase from 16 percent since spring 2018.

Despite digital leaders’ perception of skills amongst new and current workers improving, more needs to be done to keep up with the pace of the adoption of new technologies within the workplace. As many as three-quarters (75 percent) of digital leaders in the UK report that technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things, are fundamentally changing their organisation.

Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, partner at Deloitte and author of this year’s Digital Disruption Index, said that while it’s promising to see improvements in leaders’ confidence in their workers’ digital abilities, there is a lot more that still needs to be done and, if left unaddressed, the skills gap could grow to a level that’s hard to fill.

"Failure to do more to educate both those in the workforce and those in the classroom will leave the UK trailing behind our global peers in the rapidly expanding digital economy," he said.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, told SC Media UK that despite efforts by managers to increase hiring, demand is outpacing supply. Organisations must strive to play an active part in making the career path more attractive to young people, and should take a leading role in raising awareness of the career opportunities within the industry, he said.

"Cyber-security truly concerns everyone, and more young people have an interest in computers generally and possess the right transferable skills. IT businesses should consider applicants whose non-traditional backgrounds mean they could bring new ideas to the position and the challenge of improving cyber-security," he said.

James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs, told SC that relying on traditional static ways of teaching cyber skills no longer works as what is taught rapidly becomes redundant as hackers find new ways to exploit weaknesses.

"As such, companies need to look at how they can ensure the skills of their current workforces keep up and learning is done in dynamic ways. The best cyber-security talent is often naturally inquisitive and spurred on by problem-solving," he said. 

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