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New survey reveals IT skills gap in the UK

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Despite an all-time high in technical literacy and an ever-increasing number of professions requiring daily computer usage, a new survey has found that there is still a significant IT skills gap in the United Kingdom.

What the survey reveals

A survey commissioned by STL of 2,000 UK office workers found that employees all over the country are struggling with their IT and tech, with a third of respondents admitting their lack of IT skills prevents them from doing their job effectively.

More than half of those surveyed said they struggled to fully understand common tools like Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word, with presentations and spreadsheets proving the most challenging.

The survey also found that employees are losing half an hour a day struggling with their IT and tech systems, translating into a loss of £1,600 per year, per worker for employers, and a shocking £16 billion to the UK economy every year.

Despite the gap in knowledge, many workers say embarrassment stops them from asking for help. 42% of respondents said they would rather ask co-workers for assistance than the IT department, suggesting they worry their request would be considered ‘basic’.

How employees can address this IT skills gap

When asked about how this skills gap could be addressed, many employees suggested it was their employer’s responsibility to ensure proper training. Over half of employees polled felt they would benefit from proper training in Microsoft Office, with 47% saying proper training would improve their levels of motivation at work.

It seems clear then, that the easiest way for companies to address this skills gap is to invest in professional training for their office workers, either through in-house resources or by utilizing an external training provider. Let’s look at the options available to employers:

IT Department contributions

One way to achieve a ‘quick win’ around employee IT skills is to ensure the existing IT department are available to provide assistance and training, as well as implementing ‘open-door’ policies to enable workers to feel that they can ask for help. IT departments can also create internal training programs for both existing staff and new hires, with a particular focus on Microsoft Office.

Highly skilled employee contributions

Another in-house training opportunity is to use cross-training to help reduce the skills gap. Employees who already have the skills required can be encouraged to share them with those who are lacking. This knowledge transfer across a company results in more highly skilled talent across the board and a more efficiently run office.

Outside training courses

It is often easier and cheaper to offer learning and developmental courses for employees from an outside training course. If an organization wants to have an effective and motivated workforce, these courses can be sponsored by them for employees who need the training.

The bottom line

Fixing IT skills gaps needs not be a difficult task and the investment need not be too big. Companies need to bear in mind that any investment made will result in an improved and motivated office team.