Are you being left behind in the shallows or surging forward on the digital wave? A new report from Barclays warns that SMEs need to up their digital game or risk being left behind.

Digital Skills Training Inadequate

Why is it worth listening to Barclays? Primarily because they have put considerable resources into their Digital Eagles programme, which turned 20,000 of its staff worldwide into digital advocatesMake your business digital who spend their time teaching their colleagues and public digital skills.

Their survey of UK employers and employees showed that: small businesses:

  • Small businesses are only spending an average of £109 annually per employee on digital skills training – which leaves them in danger of falling behind competitors, including those abroad.
  • 34% of the SMEs surveyed found it difficult to implement the correct training to improve staff’s digital skills
  • 45% said they felt older employees were slower to pick up the required skillsets than their younger colleagues
  • 40% admitted that they rely on graduates and younger employees for their digital output

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK, said:

“The digital revolution is having a profound effect on our lives by dramatically changing the way we live and work and interact with one another. Although in many ways this is empowering, it can also be challenging, because it requires people and businesses to acquire, retain and consistently develop new skills and understanding to truly benefit.

“Together with government, businesses and society as a whole, we need to raise our sights beyond basic inclusion and aim to create a Britain of true digital confidence at all levels of the workforce.”

Cyber Security Risk

Although more than a quarter of employers surveyed considered knowledge of data and device protection a priority digital skill to look for during the recruitment process – proving that cyber security and data protection are major concerns – the survey showed that these concerns aren’t mirrored in training budgets, with employers only planning on increasing investment in digital skills by only 19 per cent over the next five years.

This seems to support the idea that small businesses have a ‘stick their heads in the sand and hope’ approach to cyber security, as indicated by the recent Barclays-supported IOD report, which revealed that while 91% of business leaders felt cyber security was important, only 57% had a strategy in place to defend their business from cyber security risks, and only 20% had insurance in place against the risk.

“Businesses must recognise the threat that cybercrime can pose to them, their reputation and subsequently their bottom line,” said Adam Rowse, Head of Business Banking at Barclays. “With the number of customers going online rapidly rising the issue of cyber security has never been more important. Companies need to consider cyber security as critical to their business operation as cost or cash flow.

“Some of the actions that businesses can take to get cyber smart include creating a cyber security strategy, raising awareness amongst staff of the common cons used to commit cybercrime, installing software that keeps them and their customers’ details safe and keeping all software up to date.”

Do you and your staff have all the skills you need to steer your business safely through the digital age? Do you know how to defend against cyber attacks and repair any damage done by them? If the answer is no, perhaps it’s time to think about updating training.

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