As many as 17.3 million people in the UK do not have the essential digital skills required to be work-ready, Lloyds has found.
Technology has become an essential part of most modern workplaces and digital skills are now a near-universal requirement. 54% of the UK’s population use the internet to work, a 15% increase since 2018 (47%), according to the Lloyds Bank UK 2019 Consumer Digital Index.
Worryingly, the index also found that 53% of UK workers do not have all the essential skills needed to operate in the modern workplace, and that one-third lack basic cyber security skills.
Lloyds has categorised actions such as being able to share a document, being able to avoid potentially harmful popups and knowing how to use online payments as “essential” skills.
The report, which uses the behavioural data of one million people to create the UK’s largest measure of digital capability, divides digital ability into three tiers – foundation skills, essential skills for life, and essential digital skills for work.
Each segment is comprised of tasks people should be able to complete if they have a particular level of skill, which can range from turning on a device to using collaborative digital work tools.
Lloyds research found that a number of disparities between different segments of the population. For example, those categorised as “digital first” – people highly digitally capable – are 73% more likely than those who have little to no digital activity to recognise that digital skills can improve their employment prospects.
Those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds were found to be less likely to have essential digital skills due to lack of access to the internet or money to buy digital devices, according to the report.
61% of people earning more than £25,000 a year were found to have the majority of the skills needed for the workplace, while only 25% of those earning under £11,499 annually had those skills. Unemployed people were are also more likely to lack digital skills than those who are employed.
Digital first people were 1.7 times more likely to have improved their job prospects by being digitally capable, while 57% have improved their employability online.
Employees from the manufacturing, construction, utilities and retail sectors were found to be the least digitally skilled, with the West Midlands workforce the least digitally skilled.
Lloyds found that, since its research in 2018, the percentage of those with no digital skills has dropped from 15% to 13%. The bank predicts this number will continue to fall to 8% by 2030 as the older population, those over 60, adopt technology for activities such as shopping.