A report published by Virgin Media O2 Business and Censuswide has highlighted the scale of the digital knowledge gap facing the UK’s private and public sectors, with 55% of employers agreeing that their organisation has a shortage of skills in relation to digital technology. Of those, 83% are concerned about the impact this could have on their organisation.
The ‘Tech and The Battle for Talent’ report surveyed 1,500 public and private sector employees to identify the role of technology in the employee experience, showing that employee retention and recruitment challenges are a major contributor to the UK’s digital skills gap. 35% of workers report that skilled colleagues have left and that their replacements lack the right digital expertise, while 32% highlighted not being able to recruit staff with the necessary competencies at all.
The report also underlined expectations of employees and candidates when considering roles. 48% said that poor business equipment and software could be enough to make them resign within the next six months. 43% of employees are regularly frustrated by either the quality or lack of business technology available to them, while 35% feel that outdated tech is negatively impacting their performance. The majority (81%) also say that technology is important in helping them stay engaged and happy at work.
Despite this, many organisations are set to turn the clock back on the technological progress of the past three years. The research suggests that, on average, half of organisations that introduced new technologies during Covid-19 lockdowns are planning to revert to pre-pandemic practices. 50% of employees say that rolling back these tech advances would make them more likely to resign, a clear warning sign that reversing the UK’s digital transformation could exacerbate the skills crisis.
Frequent training programmes are high up the list of draws, too. 47% would be happier in their roles if digital training were provided, while 42% would be less likely to change jobs – meaning that investment in learning and development is imperative for organisations.
The research also confirmed that hybrid working policies – greater choice in where, when, and how people work – remain critical to talent attraction and retention. When asked about their priorities when searching for a new role, 42% said having clear hybrid working policies in place would make an employer more attractive, while 44% of professionals identified career development opportunities. These findings reinforce the need to invest in the digital technologies that make hybrid working practices possible and empower employees to fulfil their career potential.
Mike Smith, Large Enterprise & Public Sector Director at Virgin Media O2 Business, commented: “As UK employers grapple with the impact of the ‘Great Resignation’, our research shows that technology could be the tipping point for many. From concerns about digital skills shortages to outdated tech holding them back at work, the nation’s employees are ready to vote with their feet: and a decision to revert to pre-Covid technologies could see one in two leave their post in the next six months.
“But by stepping up investment in technology to help everyone work smarter, backed by the right digital training, both private and public sectors have an opportunity to improve the employee experience – and boost outputs at the same time. Our research shows that employees rate connectivity infrastructure and hybrid working tools as key for improving their productivity and happiness at work, so it’s clear that now is not the time to row back on the digital transformation the UK has made over the past three years.”