UK lagging behind digital tiger economies, says Barclays

If the UK doesn't keep up with the rest of the world in terms of digital transformation and digital skills, it might start seriously lagging behind others, Barclays said in its release this morning.

The conclusion was made after an extensive research into digital competitiveness – 10 countries were benchmarked, and 10,000 workers polled.

There is a 'disconnect' between policies supporting digital engagement in the UK, and a lack of confidence in digital skills, at an individual level, according to the report.

The UK ranks fourth in terms of support for the digital skills development, ranking behind South Korea, Sweden, and – Estonia, which it calls 'digital tiger economies'. When it comes to confidence, at an individual level, it ranks sixth – behind China, India and the USA.

“We urgently need to secure London and the UK as the world’s pre-eminent powerhouse of tech innovation as well as make sure that the UK has the digital skills and expertise to compete globally across all sectors and industries,” said Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Barclays UK.

A global race

“At a time when the UK is considering its future outside the European Union, we have to remember that competing in the digital economy isn’t simply a European question, it’s about a global race that will define how prosperous and successful we are for decades to come.”

“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 in society forward in the digital age.”

The leading countries in the index are ahead of the UK, when it comes to the ranking for digital policies. Estonia and South Korea are ‘particularly strong’ on vocational and workplace digital skills, the report said, while South Korea is the leader on broadband access policy and digital skills in compulsory education.

“In the last 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. But, now these changes are happening constantly though the evolution of the internet, smartphones, social media, and the advent of new technologies like blockchain, virtual reality, AI and open data.”

“This research shows Britons need to equip themselves with digital skills whether to future proof their career, or keep personal data and devices safe. 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.”

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