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Digital support skills training a must for UK businesses – FE News

Increased connectivity, emerging digital products and a booming tech industry are all examples of the rapid changes taking place within the UK’s growing digital economy – all of which have been accentuated by the pandemic.

The innovation manifested during this period has played a key role in facilitating the shift to hybrid working models and the development of important communication and productivity products. Such is the case that 92% of employers say it is important for employees in their organization to have a basic level of digital skills. Worryingly, however, these changes in business practices have left many employees catching up, as the digital skills gap in the UK continues to widen.

More than three-quarters of the global workforce don’t think they’re ready to operate in a digital economy, according to Salesforce Global Digital Skills Index. In the UK, that jumps to 80%, with 45% of respondents saying they feel overwhelmed by the pace of technological progress.

Skills gaps can be found in all sectors, and while it is important that more software engineer, cybersecurity expert and AI specialist positions be filled, we need to address talent shortages in non-advanced technology roles. For example, for businesses to thrive, it is essential that employees have digital support skills, which means successfully using software and productivity tools such as Teams or CRM software.

Addressing skills gaps will become more of a necessity as more and more processes go digital. It is therefore imperative that reskilling and upskilling opportunities are made available to the workforce.

Why are digital assistance skills important?

As mentioned, products and business operations are increasingly digitized, which means people need to learn how to use them. But what are the consequences if they don’t?

First, without sufficient know-how, employees cannot take full advantage of digital office technologies, such as productivity software and digital communication platforms. Promotion of products on social networks, secure processing of information; these technologies function as the foundation for the proper functioning of a business – they drive growth, innovation and productivity.

Indeed, it is easy to understand why 76% of businesses believe a lack of digital skills would hurt their bottom line, according to Wordskills UK. This places SMEs in a particularly vulnerable position as they are more sensitive to the financial impacts of productivity losses. As such, it is crucial that these types of organizations assemble a workforce equipped to use the products and software needed to stay competitive.

Sales professionals, for example, use CRM software as an essential tool for understanding customer trends. However, the data entry processes involved in this process can become extremely time-consuming, which significantly reduces productivity. Thus, the effective use of software capable of facilitating the transfer of data from websites to CRM systems, such as automated processes and voice recognition technology, is essential for efficiency.

Additionally, failing to consider the full potential of desktop technologies is a costly waste of an organization’s resources. Report says companies are wasting 37% of their software budgets every year by buying the wrong tools or deploying programs incorrectly, usually because they don’t know how to do it.

Obviously, roles that require digital support skills need a talent injection. Organizations should seek this first among their employees through retraining and development opportunities.

Access to training is essential

Where, then, should we turn to find a solution to the skills crisis? Traditional education systems must play their part in producing the next generation of tech talent, but they cannot carry the burden themselves, nor solve the problems of the current workforce – many of which are still decades old. job in front of them.

Similarly, it is unfair to assume that all companies have the wherewithal to fill skill gaps within their own teams. The The International Labor Organization has found that in 2021, 70% of large companies actively offered training, while only 23% of SMEs did so, highlighting the lack of resources available among small companies to retrain and develop staff.

Therefore, it is important that local government, businesses and training providers work together to ensure that people who want to learn new digital skills know where to go.

For example, The Development Manager has partnered with the West Midlands Combined Authority to run free digital assistance bootcamps for people wanting to learn about workplace software and apps. In addition to gaining new knowledge about the systems they work with, learners can earn certification as a Microsoft Office specialist.

In addition, transferable skills acquired through reskilling and upskilling programs can help boost social mobility. A better understanding of technology and related certificates can lead to increased economic inclusion, and technology-focused positions typically come with higher earning power.

Programs such as digital media skills bootcamps will be an important stepping stone for current employees looking to catch up on digitized products and processes. For this reason, I encourage businesses and individuals to seek out training providers in their area that offer people the opportunity to retrain and upskill to become proficient in new and emerging technologies. This will lead to increased business productivity, a more secure future for SMEs and a stronger digital economy.

By Derrin Kent, Managing Director, The development manager


Derrin Kent is Managing Director at The Development Manager, a UK-based organization that coaches and trains employees to develop technology and digital skills to close the workforce productivity gap.

The West Midlands Digital Skills Partnership brings together the region’s leading tech employers, digital entrepreneurs, local business partnerships, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, as well as universities, colleges and other providers of training. Their aim is to identify digital skills needs in the West Midlands and encourage partners to work together to address these and emerging needs, and to attract and retain investment and talent in the region.

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