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Small businesses in need of increased digital skills

Within today’s technological era, businesses across all sectors are boosting their digital resources to help maximise growth, with more brands increasing their digital marketing budgets. However, new research from Small Business Britain and Lloyds Bank Academy has revealed that many small businesses require further digital support.

Around 60% of small businesses surveyed stated that they needed further marketing support, whilst 48% wanted to upgrade their digital skills. Although marketing remained the most significant concern amongst small businesses, other aspects highlighted included strategic planning (30%), business resilience (26%) and developing new products (25%).

Digital marketing demand accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic

The current demand for digital marketing support across small businesses is largely down to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. With a vast range of businesses taking a hit due to lockdown restrictions, many companies are now looking at how to re-establish themselves and reach new audiences. Additionally, social distancing has meant that most businesses have had to familiarise themselves with virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet.

The study found that 67% of small businesses have already recruited digital marketing support over the past year to help bounce back from the plight of the pandemic as more firms look to enlist further assistance this year.

With the pandemic highlighting the shortage of digital skills, 60% of small businesses stated that they wanted to improve their online capabilities, particularly when it comes to social media. 56% of respondents said they wanted to improve their over digital marketing skills, 51% want to expand on their search engine optimisation (SEO) skills 39% want to become more competent in e-commerce and online sales.

Shortage of digital skills in the UK?

As more small businesses look to bolster their digital marketing efforts, new data from The Learning & Work Institute suggests that the UK could be heading towards a lack of digital skills. Data indicates that the number of young people taking subjects such as Information Technology (IT) has fallen by 40% since 2015.

This revelation comes as consulting firm Accenture state that the current demand for artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and robotics is seeing a rapid surge. Whilst fewer young people are choosing technology-based subjects at school, experts have highlighted that digital skills are crucial for economic growth and recovery post-COVID.

Research from The Learning & Work Institute revealed that 70% of young people expected employees to provide on the job training when it comes to digital skills. However, only 50% of employers surveyed stated that they had the capabilities to do this.

Less than 50% of British employers believed that young people were equipped with sufficient digital skills when leaving school, as 76% of businesses believe that a shortage of digital skills would impact revenue.

Why is there a lack of digital skills in the UK?

For the younger generation, Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann, chief executive of WorldSkills UK, believes various reasons prevent young people from advancing their digital skills. From a lack of defined job roles to technical professions not presented as attractive career options, a digitally related career path is down on the list of options for many.

Dr Bentley-Gockmann highlights that many young people are unaware that skills such as coding could lead to a career related to their hobbies, such as a gaming design role.

With businesses now experiencing a digital acceleration, more must be done to educate others on the importance of digital skills and the broader implications on personal development and economic growth.

How can businesses improve their digital skills?

With the UK’s growing demand for digital skills becoming more prominent, companies such as Vodafone and Enterprise Nation have announced that they will provide free digital skills training to 10,000 small businesses for free. Their training will include elements such as staying safe online, such as avoiding cyber-attacks, general digital skills, such as how to create a website and how to make the most of new technology.

Advancing digital skills provides a vast range of benefits for small businesses recovering from the pandemic.

Many business owners who are keen to learn more have registered with us to attend our 360 Digital Growth Masterclass with Guest Speaker Robert Wilson MD FedEx & TNT


Becoming fully competent with virtual platforms and online planning tools such as Microsoft Teams will help you collaborate with others efficiently, allowing your business to work smarter.

Increase your online presence

Knowing how to make content updates to your websites and upload social media posts will help increase your online visibility and place your brand in front of new audiences.

Maximise digital security

With so many risks present within the digital space, businesses must be aware of potential threats that could breach company and customer data and avoid them.

Optimise connectivity

Companies aware of the various options of how they can run their business online can help them identify the best online working solutions, leading to a more efficient way of working.

Whilst improving your digital skills is always beneficial to your business, you can further leverage your brand through support from a digital marketing agency. Digital agencies such as Soar Online can help elevate your business through a range of digital marketing strategies such as SEO, pay per click (PPC) advertising and social media marketing (SMM).

To find out more about how we can boost your business, please give us a call on 0345 207 3727.

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