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Publication - Research finding

Digital Economy Business Survey 2017

Published: 22 Mar 2018

Summary of findings from the Digital Economy Business Survey 2017.

Contents
Digital Economy Business Survey 2017
Skills

Skills

The refreshed Digital Strategy identifies that Digital skills are fundamental to the life chances of our people and the economic success of our country. Digital skills sit alongside literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing as the essential platforms for lifelong learning. These skills are required to study almost every subject at school, in further and higher education and training, and in a growing number of roles in the workplace.

For Scottish businesses to be able to fully exploit the opportunities offered by digital technologies to drive growth, improve productivity and stimulate innovation it is essential that the current and future workforce have the skills and confidence to do so.

This section looks at the extent to which the digital skills required by businesses are readily available in the workforce.

Figure 5: How equipped staff as a whole are in terms of skills to meet the business' digital technology needs (%)
Base: All businesses (min = 3,258)
Figure 5: How equipped staff as a whole are in terms of skills to meet the business' digital technology needs (%)

Digital skills of the workforce (see Figure 5)

  • 26 per cent of all businesses stated that their existing staff were fully equipped in terms of skills to meet the business' digital technology needs, a decrease from 37 per cent of businesses surveyed in 2014.
  • Almost half (48 per cent) stated that they were well equipped but with some skills gaps (40 per cent in 2014).
  • 19 per cent stated that they had considerable skills gaps, an increase from 16 per cent in 2014.

Type and impact of digital skills gaps

  • 35 per cent of businesses with digital skills gaps were lacking technical skills, including: software skills (22 per cent) and web development skills (10 per cent).
  • 15 per cent were lacking business and commercial skills, including: digital marketing (7 per cent) and cyber security skills (3 per cent).
  • 56 per cent either lacked a skill that was not listed or did not know which type of skills they were missing. Compared to 2014, businesses were much less certain in 2017 about the specific digital skills gaps that they faced.
  • When asked what areas have been affected by their employees' digital skills gaps, the most cited answer was that it prevented the business from fully adopting and exploiting the latest methods and technologies (10 per cent and 9 per cent respectively). 7 per cent also stated that digital skills gaps were impacting on the business' ability to sell products or services over the internet.

Figure 6: Whether the business is taking any action to develop its current employees' digital technology skills, for example by providing training (%)
Base: All businesses (min = 3,258)
Figure 6: Whether the business is taking any action to develop its current employees' digital technology skills, for example by providing training (%)

Training and recruitment (see Figure 6)

  • 34 per cent of businesses stated that they are doing something to develop their current employees' digital technology skills, compared to 26 per cent in 2014. 19 per cent stated that they are planning to do this in the future.
  • 45 per cent stated that they were not currently taking action to develop their employees' digital skills and had no plans to do so in the future, a decrease from 54 per cent in 2014.
  • 22 per cent of respondents stated that they had not faced any problems in recruiting or retaining digital technology specialists in the past 12 months, while 3 per cent had found some difficulty in finding or keeping candidates with the right skills or the right experience. 72 per cent had not recruited.
  • Of those organisations facing recruitment difficulties, 13 per cent stated that they would look to overcome their skills shortage by recruiting from abroad, and 5 per cent planned to train or retrain existing staff.
  • Regarding digital training opportunities available in Scotland, only 5 per cent of all businesses surveyed were aware of CodeClan [3] – Scotland's digital skills academy.

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