Lack of digital skills obstructs small business progress
Urgent action is needed to address the digital skills gap in the UK and support small firms, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has claimed.
They suggest that productivity will continue to stall without government and industry action, as more than a quarter of business owners lack confidence in digital skills.
At the same time, 22% of bosses believe that a lack of similar skills among their staff is preventing them from successfully enhancing their business online.
This is ultimately impacting on sales and brand recognition, while also preventing small businesses from being as efficient as possible.
According to the Lloyds Bank Business Digital Index 2017, 34% of firms in the North lack tech skills, and the FSB has warned they face being left behind unless action is taken.
It is reported that digitally capable businesses are twice as likely to see an increase in turnover compared to those lacking skills, yet despite this a quarter of firms do not view digital skills as being essential for growth.
FSB National chairman Mike Cherry has insisted that digital skills are an essential part of a business being both competitive and responsive to customer needs.
'If we can harness the digital potential of small firms, we stand a real chance of creating more world-beating businesses and boosting growth' he said.
A failure to embrace digital skills and close the widening gap could cost businesses dear in the long term and may ultimately place them under severe financial strain.
The bottom line could be hit by reduced sales, while it could also impede research and product development, meaning a business could be overtaken by its competitors.
Despite the need for digital skills training, 49% of businesses have said they do not have a plan or budget in place for the next 12 months.
As a result, the FSB has said support is needed to overcome the barriers that small businesses say they face - namely addressing the expense and availability of adequate training.
By Phil Smith