In a recent study conducted by technology company Userlane, it has been revealed that a staggering two-thirds of businesses in the United Kingdom are grappling with a significant digital skills gap among their workforce.

These findings come from the 2023 State of Digital Adoption report, shedding light on the pressing need for upskilling in the modern workplace.

According to the report, an overwhelming 89 percent of employees express a strong desire to acquire new digital skills. This statistic underscores the growing awareness among workers of the importance of keeping up with technological advancements.

The motivations behind this pursuit of digital proficiency include increasing productivity and efficiency (34%), staying abreast of technological developments (33%), enhancing job security (29%), boosting overall digital literacy (28%), and advancing one’s career and professional growth (28%).

Among the most sought-after digital skills are data analysis and interpretation (19%), utilisation of artificial intelligence (AI) (17%), and familiarity with online learning platforms (17%).

What about digital adoption?

The report also highlights the considerable challenges faced by employees when it comes to digital adoption. Despite 53 percent of respondents noting an increase in software usage over the past year, a staggering 90 percent of them reported difficulties in using new applications in their daily work routines.

Perhaps most alarming of all is the revelation that the average UK employee loses approximately 2.33 hours per week due to these challenges, with 53 percent losing over an hour weekly. A quarter of respondents admitted to feeling overwhelmed or stressed as a result of these issues.

For businesses, this presents a critical issue, as 68 percent of employees consider stress-free software usage as a key factor in their overall job satisfaction, with 90 percent linking it directly to productivity.

A lack of sufficient training

Despite these challenges, just 62 percent of respondents believe their employers provide sufficient training, and a similar number (65%) feel they have the necessary IT support. Over half (51%) reported that remote working has forced them to independently resolve software-related issues. Furthermore, communication appears to be a hurdle, with only 62 percent of employees feeling that their employers clearly explain their digital transformation plans.

Employees are also frequently called upon to assist with technology-related matters. Nearly half (46%) of Gen Z staff revealed that they’ve been asked to help executives or higher-level management. Most commonly, employees are approached for assistance by colleagues within their team or department (76%), followed by friends and family (71%) and colleagues from other departments or teams (63%).

Software training budgets are on the decline

In another concerning trend, the report highlighted that software training budgets are on the decline. UK businesses spent an average of £1,107.63 per employee per year on training, down from £2,086.55 in the previous year.

The current types of software training most likely to be offered to employees include peer-to-peer learning or knowledge sharing (62%), online self-paced courses or tutorials (59%), and hands-on workshops or practical exercises (59%). However, the report indicates that the types of software training most likely to be offered in the future will include interactive virtual training sessions (42%), simulations or virtual environments (42%), and gamified learning experiences (40%).

Hartmut Hahn, CEO of Userlane, commented on the findings, stating:

“Employees want to stay on top of trends and take more responsibility for maintaining their digital skills. For business leaders, this is fantastic, but they must be prepared to offer the right support. This means taking the right approach to training.” He continued, “Our report shows that most employees prefer to apply digital skills practically – in other words, learn by doing.”

Hahn also emphasised the need for a scalable approach to digital adoption, saying, “More and more business leaders are of the opinion that traditional classroom trainings, videos, and user manuals, which can be expensive and cumbersome, are no longer practical – especially on a large scale. Instead, they need a people-focused, scalable approach to digital adoption, one which empowers employees to get familiar with software at their own pace.”

He suggested that one way to achieve this is by implementing a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP), which seamlessly integrates with various software applications and can be combined with analytics tools to track and measure digital adoption progress across multiple applications.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.