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Millions of UK workers don't have the proper digital skills they need

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Duncan Andison)

Around half of the UK’s workforce, approximately 17 million people, are lacking what’s known as Essential Digital Skills (EDS), collective FutureDotNow has said in a new report. 

FutureDotNow is a coalition of leading organizations focused on accelerating the UK’s workplace digital skills at scale, and says its report found people without EDS are present, in large numbers, in industries such as retail, services, manufacturing, construction, and the public sector.

These industries depend on this workforce, the report further claims, meaning their very future is thus at stake. 

Employers are often misguided, as well, confusing the basic use of mobile devices for EDS. As a result, they don’t offer as much education or training as they should. Less than a quarter (23 percent) of employees report having any digital skills training from employers, the report stated, adding that the UK is ranked 41st in the world for employee training, according to IMD World Digital Competitiveness 2020 data.

If using a mobile device can’t be considered EDS, what can? Accessing payslips, booking shifts and leave, avoiding social-media disasters, basic password practice, using cloud storage, analyzing data, synchronizing information across multiple devices, and keeping viruses out of systems by identifying suspicious emails.

“FutureDotNow’s report reveals a hidden middle between digital exclusion and advanced digital skills which needs addressing urgently: there’s a significant part of our workforce without the essential digital skills required for the new global digital world we’re competing in,” commented Liz Williams, chief executive, FutureDotNow. “Great businesses are underpowered like smartphones with a flat battery because their workforces lack these essential digital skills.”