The United Kingdom is losing out on 63 billion euros a year as companies struggle to find people with digital skills, said a joint study by Indian IT firm Tata Consultancy Services and London-based Confederation of British Industry.
This could jeopardize the UK's competitiveness, deter investment and limit people's ability to make the most of the opportunity technology brings, the study said.
“ln today’s digital economy, there are two key focuses for sustainable talent development: encouraging students to understand what it takes to pursue a successful career in technology, and giving employees the best possible training opportunities," said Shankar Narayanan, VP and country head at TCS’ UK and Ireland division.
The report said that two-thirds (67%) of companies across the UK have digital vacancies. One in five firms is unable to find employees with basic computer skills - including writing documents and using spreadsheets.
Advanced digital skills are in greater demand in all sectors, with 55% of larger firms reporting challenges in recruiting software engineers and 61% struggling to hire data analysts, it said.
"TCS is focused on developing STEM skills in communities all around the UK. Our skills programmes like digital explorers, which help children connect day-to-day interactions with consumer technology to the lT tools and skills which power them, are helping to grow the UK's digital talent pool," added Narayanan.
According to the report, which surveyed 250 companies, the majority of companies are taking action to tackle their digital skills shortages, with 56% of businesses confident they are spending enough on addressing their needs.
But in reality, almost half of businesses (46%) are fishing in the same pool, by trying to hire outside of their organizations as the main way to access the digital skills they need.
"Digital skills are absolutely fundamental to getting people ready for the future of work and helping companies make the most of the opportunities technology brings. It’s essential we tackle the UK's digital skills crunch now to remain internationally competitive and promote the UK as the number one place for businesses to invest," said Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director, CBl.
Fell also said that CBI had made a few recommendations to companies. These include the government setting an ambitious target for the entire UK workforce, businesses understanding their digital skills needs and coordinating with local policymakers.