More government support needed for digital skills, says Scottish Chambers of Commerce
Using an iPad - Image credit: Press Association
Scottish Chambers of Commerce is calling for more support from government to plug the digital skills gap, following a national business survey that found a majority of businesses facing shortages.
Companies are facing a lack of digital skills in their workforce which is affecting productivity, according to the survey carried out with nearly 1,500 companies across the UK, including 116 in Scotland, by the British Chambers of Commerce.
The research found that more than 80 per cent of the businesses in Scotland are facing a shortage of digital skills in their workforce, with 59 per cent reporting a slight shortage, 20 per cent a significant one and four per cent a critical shortage.
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Of these, basic computer skills, communicating and connecting through digital channels and management of digital information were the key areas mentioned by around three-quarters of companies.
Firms said skills shortages are having adverse effects including increasing workload on existing staff, difficulties in meeting customer requirements and higher operating costs.
The key barriers to resolving these shortages were a lack of time for staff training, difficulty in identifying appropriate training and the high cost of training.
The survey also found that digital and IT skills are more important to 83 per cent of the firms than two years ago, with 44 per cent saying these skills are significantly more important.
The Scottish results were in line with those across the rest if the UK.
Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Digital skills are vital to growing productivity in Scotland’s businesses and to getting our economy back on track.
“Without access to the right skills, too many of our businesses will not reach their full potential.
“While the vast majority of businesses clearly recognise this fact, it is concerning that so many are reporting knowledge gaps and skills shortages that are having a direct impact on business.
“That is why it is important that our governments at a Scottish and UK level work harder to reduce business costs through taxation in order to free up the resources that businesses need to invest in these skills for the future.
“In addition, as the UK enters negotiation on our withdrawal from the EU, this survey underlines the vital need for the UK Government to put plans in place to ensure that our future migration strategy recognises this key skill shortage and enables businesses to access individuals with the talents that they need both from domestic and international markets.”
The Scottish Government’s digital strategy, published two weeks ago, includes a £36m Digital Growth Fund to help companies address the undersupply of digital skills.