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Three quarters of IT employers claim their company has a digital skills gap

  • A survey from The Open University revealed that 69% of employers are struggling to recruit staff with adequate digital skills
  • 62% of employers say they are also struggling to upskill their current staff with adequate digital skills
  • Over half of employers say they plan on upskilling their staff to meet the skills gap in their company in the next two years
  • New Higher Technical Qualifications in England are being launched at a key time in which to support employers to address their digital skills gaps.  

The Open University (OU) has revealed new findings detailing how employers in England are struggling to meet the digital skills gap in their organisation.

The OU surveyed 425 senior IT decision makers based in England, with over 20+ employees.  The survey probed their attitudes towards the digital skills gaps their organisations might be facing, the digital roles which they are finding it most difficult to recruit for, and how they plan on closing the skills gap in their organisations in the near future.

The Survey results revealed that the majority (77%) of employers say they currently have a digital skills gap in their organisation and are struggling to recruit new staff with adequate digital skills and to upskill their current staff.

Employers in England also acknowledged that improving digital skills would add value to their organisation. 48% of respondents say they think it would drive ‘business’ profitability’, 46% think it will improve ‘productivity’ within the business and 45% think it will make the company more competitive in the marketplace. Almost half (48%) of respondents think that upskilling their current employees would help them avoid expensive new hires.

Respondents revealed their commitment to finding solutions to these challenges by revealing their plans to upskill their current staff to meet the skills gap in their company in the next two years (56%) with many planning to reskill their existing staff into new roles (46%).

When asked about the possibility of higher education courses providing solutions to these problems, 84% of employers think that the options of both HTQs (Higher Technical Qualifications) and apprenticeships are a good way to meet the digital skills gap in their business, and 72% think digital bootcamps could also offer a solution to their skills shortage needs.

The survey’s other key findings include:

  • Cyber Security is the technical skill their organisation is currently lacking the most (42%), followed by Software Development (36%) and Network Engineering at 24%
  • 57% of employers admitting they don’t think their organisation invests enough in digital skills

As organisations continue to rely more and more on digital capability, this survey shows that it can be challenging to recruit staff into digital roles and keep existing employees up to date with relevant digital skills. Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) are a new route to provide the skills needed to close some of these critical gaps in organisations. Approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, they been developed in collaboration with employers against particular occupational standards. The Open University is proud to be one of the first institutions to offer HTQs in Network Engineering and Software Development, which as the results show, are some of the roles that employers lack and are finding it challenging to recruit for.

Jacky Hinton
Director of Apprenticeships and HTQs, The Open University

Find out more about HTQs

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