The digital future of the UK and the digital skills gap


Some UK stats to start with…

  • By 2022, 1.2mn new technical and digitally skilled people are needed
  • 40% of public sector organisations don’t have the right skills in place to adapt to digital transformation
  • Within 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require an element of digital skills

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Why does the digital skills gap exist?

The supply of tech talent has failed to keep up with demand which is why the UK is facing a digital skills crisis, with both public and private sector struggling to fill job openings at the rate required.

The skills required just aren’t available in sufficient quantities to meet current or future demand.

The digital skills gap is a worldwide issue, and if not tackled, will hinder the long-term performance of organisations and economies alike.  

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Indicators for public sector 

Academics report a pronounced difference in the impact of the skills shortage on public sector when compared with private sector. Alex Hilton, Chief Executive of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) expands, stating:

“this widening skills gap between the public and private sector is worrying within the context of the general ICT skills shortage, suggesting that the private sector is doing a better job of drawing from the already-scarce digital talent base, leaving government organisations with a smaller pool to draw from. While it’s heartening to see government seeking to create a more digitally-savvy civil service and moving in the right direction, with the GDS Digital Academy providing skills training right across government, without the ICT skills in place these initiatives will be hampered.”

Also, research by CIF and its Public Sector Specialist Interest Group (SIG) highlights:

  • 40% of public sector organisations do not have the right skills in place to adapt to digital transformation
  • 41% have run up against a lack of internal skills and/or knowledge when attempting to migrate to a cloud solution

Hilton went onto say:

“working with the technology that underpins digital transformation, such as on-demand cloud computing services, requires a different skill set from the traditional, proprietary IT of the past. Historically, many government departments and agencies have outsourced their ICT services to system integrators (SIs), in some instances believing they had also outsourced the risk by doing so. This reliance on SIs, combined with the cutbacks imposed by years of austerity, has left many public sector organisations without the necessary skills and staff in-house to confidently adapt to new approaches to ICT such as the cloud.” 

According to the findings, a quarter are confident that their leadership team recognises the need for digital transformation, but only 17% are confident that current leadership can transform the organisation. Even more worryingly, only 12% are completely confident their leadership team can deliver digital transformation.

A massive 55% believe their organisation doesn’t have the skills required to adapt to digital transformation.

Other key findings include:

  •  The top three sought after digital skills are:
    • strategy (37%)
    • digital roadmap for implementation (37%)
    • cloud specialists (35%)
  • In 39% of organisations, the IT team has been maintained in its current form but refocused on new IT priorities
  • In a further 35% of cases the team was maintained but workloads on legacy systems reduced to take account of new digital transformation projects
  • The overwhelming majority of IT departments – 85% – the team size has been maintained

The skills shortage is inhibiting the public sector’s capacity to adapt cloud computing, therefore putting the brakes on radical service changes, savings and efficiencies.

For further information and insights on the IT skills shortage within public sector download our latest white paper. 

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