Just under two-fifths of organisations have reported facing a skills gap in their organisation linked to advanced digital skills – with only one in five young people being “very confident” they possess skills that employers need. 

A new report by the Learning and Work Institute highlights a significant problem for the UK labour market, with many organisations suffering from a skills gap which is not being filled by young people.

The research has shown that basic digital skills have become a necessity for businesses with over nine in 10 (92 per cent) reporting that employees having this skill-set is imperative for their firm.

However, an area which is set to grow is the demand for advanced digital skills. Whilst only over one in four organisations (27 per cent) say that the majority of their workers require skills at this level currently, almost three in five employers (60 per cent) expect their reliance on advanced digital skills to increase in the next five years.

At this present time, the research shows that many employers are currently facing a skills gap which will widen over the coming years.

This has a large impact on profitability for businesses with over three-quarters (76 per cent) saying that a lack of digital skills would affect the amount of profit their business generates.

When analysing young people and their skills, there is a broad understanding amongst this group that digital skills are necessary in order to succeed within the labour market – with 88 per cent of young people reporting this.

However, whilst two-thirds (62 per cent) possess basic digital skills, only one fifth (18 per cent) of young people are very confident they have the advanced digital skills that employers need.

To aid this issue, most (70 per cent) young people said they want an employer that invests in their digital skills. However, a third of employers (33 per cent) reported specifically recruiting workers to meet digital skills gaps, implying many businesses may expect young people to be already equipped with the necessary skills.

Speaking to HRreview, Joe Dromey, deputy director of research and development at Learning and Work Institute said:
Our research shows that while demand for digital skills is increasing fast, the number of young people taking apprenticeships and further education courses in digital skills has declined. While seven in ten young people expect their employer to invest in their digital skills, we know that employer investment in skills in the UK has declined in recent years, and investment is low compared to other European countries.

If we are to avoid a growing digital skills gap, and if we are to drive growth after the pandemic, we need to boost employer investment in skills in general, and in digital skills in particular.

*This research was obtained from the Learning and Work Institute’s report ‘Disconnected? Exploring the Digital Skills Gap’ which was made in collaboration with WorldSkills UK and Enginuity. WorldSkills UK commissioned a poll of 1,004 employers from YouGov’s employer panel and 2,017 young people aged 16-24 from Youthsight. These samples were weighted to reflect employers across Great Britain as a whole.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.