Salesforce Survey Finds Digital Skills Ranked #1 Workplace Skill in UK, but the Next Generation Isn’t Convinced

Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, released data revealing that UK workers rank digital skills as the most important skill for the current and future workplace.

But more than one in four current workers [27%] do not feel confident in any digital capabilities and the future workforce is not aware of their importance, ranking them the seventh most important aspect of the 2030 workplace.

The research highlights a growing skills crisis in the UK and the urgent need for government and business action to address the UK’s digital skills gap.

Data underscores need for education

Among current workers, many blame their poor digital confidence on a lack of training, with one in three workers [33%] saying their job doesn’t provide digital upskilling opportunities and almost half [48%] wishing they had the opportunity for digital education at school or earlier in their careers.

Just how strongly current workers value the opportunity to learn digital skills is highlighted when they are asked about what workplace benefits are most important to them. Opportunities for training and continued learning were ranked the second most important workplace benefit among this cohort, behind only flexible working and ranking higher than pay bonuses and wellbeing benefits.

In contrast to the current workforce, Salesforce’s new research revealed that future workers (13–18-year-old school children) lack awareness of the importance of digital skills. Those surveyed ranked these skills only the seventh most important capability required for the 2030 workplace. The data also shows a gender gap: When it came to naming their dream jobs, computer science ranked fifth for boys and was not in the top 10 for girls.

“The UK is facing a digital skills crisis, compromising its status as one of the world’s most important science and technology hubs,” said Zahra Bahrololoumi, CEO, Salesforce UKI. “It is especially worrying that today’s school children don’t yet recognise digital skills as a priority for their future career. We are failing the next generation and must educate both parents and children urgently on the importance of digital skills across the board.”

The answer lies in a national skills platform

Salesforce is urging UK business and government to work together to establish a national online digital skills platform that brings together programmes from industry, training providers, and educational institutions to show people where to access the training they need.

The company has committed to investing in digital skills training and today announced a grant of over £1.1 million to support education programs in the UK. Its online learning platform, Trailhead, is already accessible to all for free and has helped more than 5 million people digitally upskill for the future of work to date.

“We are urging the government to establish a national online digital skills platform to make it easier for people to find and access the training they need.” ZAHRA BAHROLOLOUMI, CEO, SALESFORCE UKI

“In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor rightly identified digital technology as one of the UK’s five growth industries and pledged to make the UK ‘the world’s next Silicon Valley,’ but to realise this vision we need to fix the digital skills gap,” said Bahrololoumi. “We are urging the government to establish a national online digital skills platform to make it easier for people to find and access the training they need. The government is uniquely placed to do this, and at scale with the backing of business. A failure to invest will act as a brake on our growth and ambitions for the UK to be a leading destination for investment and technological innovation.”

“The digital skills gap is one of the biggest challenges the UK is facing right now. The research carried out by Salesforce shows that people are ready and willing to gain new digital skills that will fulfil their professional and personal growth, however, they are lacking the resources to do it,” said Antony Walker, techUK Deputy CEO. “To solve the gap, government, academia and industry need to work together to provide people with the tools they need to skill and re-skill. techUK applauds initiatives like Salesforce’s Trailhead online platform and we look forward to supporting their work through our digital skills arm, TechSkills, linking employers, academia, and individuals to grow and support talent throughout their career.”

Research methodology

Salesforce’s Future of Work Survey posed two 10-question surveys: one fielded among 1,220 working adults and another amongst 1,000 13–18-year-old schoolchildren in the UK. The research was run by TRUE Global Intelligence in partnership with Opinium, and fieldwork ran from 25th – 31st August 2022. Working adults are referred to throughout the release as ‘Current Workers’ or ‘Workers’. 13–18-year-old schoolchildren are referred to throughout the release as ‘Future Workers’.

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