Report: Tech Skills Shortage Holding Back Digital Transformation – DIGIT.FYI

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Large UK Companies: Tech Skills Shortage Holding Back Digital Transformation

Elizabeth Greenberg


digital transformation

The tech skills gap and legacy IT systems were some of the top reasons large companies cited as holding back their digital transformation. 

Elizabeth Greenberg
New research commissioned by UST, a digital transformation solutions company, has revealed the most prevalent challenges delaying digital transformation across UK industries.
The survey has found that a third of large UK companies cite a lack of in house technical skills (33%), and too many legacy IT systems in place (33%) as key factors in halting digital transformation efforts.
Another key factor raised by nearly a third of respondents was concern amongst their workforce about automation taking away jobs (31%).
While UK digital spending is projected to increase 5.2% year-over-year in 2023, the findings show UK businesses are unable to fully take advantage of technology advancements.
200 senior decision makers in large UK companies with an average turnover of over £9 billion were surveyed, so the research may not represent issues affecting SMEs.
For these larger companies, the survey found that adopting the right technologies can help organisations build resiliency, reduce operating costs and improve sustainability.
In terms of immediate benefits of investing in digital transformation, respondents rated building resilience to cope with future disruption highest (41%), followed by lowering costs and increasing profitability (40%) and improving sustainability (39%).
According to respondents, cloud computing is the most important technology for successful digital transformation, with 75% ranking it highest.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning, however, were close behind at 67%, followed by augmented reality and Web 3.0 (58%) and robotics (54%) as crucial or very important technologies driving their digital transformation strategies.
Respondents are insisting that the government step up their efforts in supporting digital transformation.
Nearly half of respondents said the government should provide more incentives for businesses to invest in R&D (45%), support more STEM programmes in schools (44%), and suppose innovation hubs outside of current hotspots (40%).
Further, respondents (40%) also said greater collaboration between public, private, and educational sectors could help foster innovation.
The respondents claim to be making their own strides in these ventures, with over half (53%) saying they partner with schools and higher education to show what types of careers are available in their company.
Further, nearly half are advertising job vacancies in a wider range of places (49%), offering internships or summer placements (48%) and running apprenticeship programs (42%).
Praveen Prabhakaran, Chief Delivery Officer and UK Managing Director, UST, said: “Our research highlights the need for companies to continue investing in digital transformation efforts; this will help build resilience and reduce costs over the long term. Investing in technology capabilities is also vital for improving sustainability which is particularly important given the pressure many companies are under to meet net zero targets.
“In order to overcome the technical skills gap, the private sector must increase collaboration with the government and educational institutions to increase uptake in STEM subjects and digital upskilling. At UST, we are proud to work closely with schools and universities not just in the UK but across the world to develop and upskill the next generation of tech talent.”
Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer for FDM Group, commented: “Talent shortage is currently being cited as one of the leading barriers to the adoption of new and emerging technologies, holding back both business and economic growth. It is positive to see that organisations are taking the initiative and attempting to train talent from diverse pools of individuals, such as women, returners and ex-forces, as these groups, as well as other marginalised groups, who hold untapped and relevant skills that all too often get overlooked.”
“Technology and innovation act as huge growth drivers and for the UK to achieve its goal of technological and economic growth, investment in skills must be made, which also means guiding young people who will be looking to start their careers. Without the right level of expertise, new technologies will be left redundant and undeveloped which, for businesses, will mean losing out on increased productivity.”
“The government must continue supporting businesses who are attempting to bridge the skills gap, allowing them to offer opportunities in educating and training to individuals who can either be taught or retrained in skills that organisations are crying out for.”
Elizabeth Greenberg
Staff Writer
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