UK falling behind in digital skills race

The UK is falling behind the rest of the world in the digital skills arena, according to a new study commissioned by Barclays.

“The UK can become the world’s pre-eminent powerhouse of tech innovation, and compete globally across all sectors and industries, but only if we significantly develop our digital skills and expertise,” the chief executive of Barclays UK Ashok Vaswani said as the research was published.

The survey showed that only 16% of workers in the UK would be comfortable building a website, compared with 39% in Brazil and 37% in India.

“In the previous century, most of us had to cope with just one big shift in technology in our career or lifetime, and we’ve been able to rely on our early education to get us through,” Vaswani said.

“But now these changes are happening constantly, through the evolution of the internet, smartphones, social media and the advent of new technologies like blockchain, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and open data. This research shows Britons need to equip themselves with digital skills whether to futureproof their career, or keep personal data and devices safe.”


‘Building on established concerns’

The report arrives in the wake of several sector players voicing their concern over the general levels of understanding of digital issues among younger workers about to enter the workforce.

Barclays surveyed 10,000 workers in 10 countries, with the UK performing relatively well on “digital empowerment”, behind only Estonia, South Korea and Sweden. But in terms of how well individuals harness new technologies, Britain ranked sixth.

“Businesses also need to do much more to upskill each and every generation of their workforce; we need to create a new culture of lifelong learning. With the referendum sending a clear message that too many parts of the UK do not feel they are sharing in the promise of global prosperity, now is the time to take everyone forward together in the digital age,” Vaswani said.