A new survey published today by US-based cloud software giant Salesforce has found that the UK is heading for a digital skills workforce disaster.
Even though most questioned responded by ranking digital skills as the critical skill for current and future work, the survey of 2000+ comprised half of working adults and half of 13-18-year-olds still doubted their abilities.
The “Future of Work” survey, commissioned by Salesforce and undertaken by TRUE Global Intelligence and partnered with Opinium, proffered two sets of 10-questions: the fieldwork took place in the late summer, between the 25th – 31st of August 2022.
UK Science and Technology Hub Compromised
Working adults and schoolchildren were in two groups and given a set of ten questions each. More than a quarter of the total asked said they felt ill-equipped in their digital work capabilities. The younger participants surveyed even ranked them seventh in importance for the workplace of 2030.
Zahra Bahrololoumi, CEO of Salesforce UK/I, expressed her concern. She said: “The UK is facing a digital skills crisis, compromising its status as one of the world’s most important science and technology hubs.” Bahrololoumi added:
“It is especially worrying that today’s school children don’t yet recognise digital skills as a priority for their future career. We are failing the next generation and must urgently educate parents and children on the importance of digital skills across the board.”
Salesforce’s research found that many current workers’ low confidence in digital skills was due to upskilling and education opportunities. One in three said their current job doesn’t provide training, while just under half wished they had digital education provided by their school or previous employers.
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Dream Job Gender Gap
When surveyed where they ranked digital training opportunities, the participants considered it the second most crucial workplace benefit behind flexible working. Notably, the survey group ranked work bonuses and well-being further down.
Asked to name their dream jobs, a gender gap appeared between the 13-18-year-olds, with boys ranking computer science in fifth place and girls not even putting it in their top ten.
Salesforce has responded twofold to what it perceives as an impending crisis: calling on the UK government and businesses to help establish a national online digital skills platform and injecting a £1.1 million grant for UK education programmes. Its 2014-launched free education platform, Trailhead, already has more than 5 million users.
However, Salesforce acting alone may not be enough, as Bahrololoumi pointed out: “A failure to invest will act as a brake on our growth and ambitions for the UK to be a leading destination for investment and technological innovation.” She stated:
“We are urging the government to establish a national online digital skills platform to make it easier for people to find and access the training they need. The government is uniquely placed to do this at scale with the backing of business.”
Future Support Pledge from techUK
Trade association techUK admits there is a digital skills gap, one of the biggest challenges facing the UK. It realises that the people eager to learn are simply lacking the resources.
Antony Walker, techUK Deputy CEO, offered a solution and said. “To solve the gap, government, academia, and industry need to work together to provide people with the tools they need to skill and re-skill.”
Walker outlined the trade association’s efforts and stated: “techUK applauds initiatives like Salesforce’s Trailhead online platform, and we look forward to supporting their work through our digital skills arm, TechSkills, linking employers, academia, and individuals to grow and support talent throughout their career.”