New research from digital services company AND Digital reveals that nearly a third (31%) of over 55s want to improve their digital skills to ensure they can have another career or role before they retire, but are not being encouraged or supported by their organisations with training to do so.
This comes at a time when a lack of digital skills is having direct consequences for UK businesses, with 61% of business growth depending on digital outcomes. The majority (81%) of managing directors also admit that a lack of digital skills is negatively impacting their organisation.
Despite the urgent need for digitally skilled employees in the workforce and demand from over 55s to be digitally upskilled, six in 10 (60%) of over 55s have not received digital upskilling from their employer. In fact, nearly a fifth (19%) feel they lack sufficient digital skills even for their current job roles – let alone new ones.
However, a perceived stigma around digital upskilling is holding workers back from putting themselves forward for training. Over a quarter (29%) of over 55s want to improve their digital skills but feel daunted by the prospect and don’t feel comfortable bringing it up with their employer. Younger employees are also experiencing this barrier, with two fifths (40%) of 18-34 year olds saying they’re embarrassed by their lack of digital skills as they’re younger than most employees and feel they should have a better understanding.
The research also demonstrates a need to tailor training methods by age. For example, over 55s are more likely to prefer being upskilled on the job (45%) than 18-34-year-olds (38%). While 18-34-year-olds are more likely to prefer to upskill by reading and consuming content, such as LinkedIn and news articles (22%), than over 55s (11%).
Harriet Perks, London Learning & Development Lead at AND Digital, said: “Many organisations are missing an untapped opportunity to increase their digital capabilities by not nurturing existing talent and upskilling more mature employees in technical digital skills. It is vital that we build on the valuable experience in human skills, such as communicating with empathy and problem solving, that many mature workers have accrued during their careers and can bring to existing digital teams. Not only will this mean organisations are fit for a digital future and see continued economic growth, but it will also enable all people to keep earning and progressing in their careers at a time of economic uncertainty.
“For this to happen, business leaders must help to reduce the embarrassment and stigma all age groups feel around their capabilities and what they’d like to advance. The issue is too important to skirt around, meaning training can no longer assume a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and must be tailored to ensure we do our employees and organisations justice.”