Digital skills shortage concerning SMEs

A lack of digital skills is hampering UK productivity, the British Chambers of Commerce has revealed.

New data reveals that small businesses are being left to count the costs of struggling to hire employees with the required levels of digital understanding.

The results from the Digital Economy Survey reveal that 84% of firms believe digital skills to be more important than they were two years ago, with 51% of those saying they are “significantly more important”.

This focus on digital skills comes despite a shortage of knowledge among the UK workforce – three in four companies said they did not have the required levels of skills among their employees.

More than 1,400 businesses were quizzed as part of the study, and while 52% reported a slight shortage of skills, 21% said there was a significant shortage and 3% reported a critical shortage.

In the case of the latter, productivity suffers which can also influence levels of sales, product development and innovation.

All of these factors will ultimately impact the bottom line of a business and may even lead to insolvency should appropriate actions not be taken.

If a business is allowed to stagnate, sales can slow and debts can build up, which may result in creditors requesting a winding up petition in order to recover the debts.

Other actions can be taken prior to this eventuality, and the key for any business experiencing difficulties is to act quickly and effectively by seeking help from appropriate sources, such as a corporate recovery practitioner.

The Digital Marketing Association has recognised the importance of technology and suggests the speed of development in the digital sector is one of the key challenges to be overcome.

They claim that while businesses recognise the role that technology can have, many do not have the skilled staff to successfully implement it, placing a great deal of emphasis on education and training.

By Phil Smith

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