Training & Learning

Why You Need Digital Upskilling to Future-Proof Your UK Workforce

There’s no denying we live in a digital-first world. We work remotely, order shopping online, and book taxis from our smartphones. 

Yet, L&D teams are scrambling to keep up with the pace of digital transformation in the workplace. Case in point: 92% of UK organisations recently agreed that digital skills are the key to future success, but nearly one-quarter of these organisations lack a skilled workforce to meet that demand. 

Workplaces that invest in digital upskilling are now laying the foundation for the future. Not only does digital upskilling lead to happy employees, but it also helps businesses meet their business objectives by ensuring their workforce can adapt to any kind of tech in the future. 

In this article, we’ll explore exactly what digital upskilling is and why it's important for UK businesses. Then, we'll walk through the major benefits of digital upskilling for the workplace and for employees.

What is digital upskilling?

You’re likely already familiar with the concept of upskilling—a process in which L&D creates continuous learning opportunities for employees that help them gain new skills and do their jobs more effectively. 

Digital upskilling is a similar concept that focuses on skills and knowledge related to new and evolving technologies. And it’s not just hard skills, like learning HTML or using a project management tool. The most effective digital training programmes teach employees soft skills as well, like how to work collaboratively as an asynchronous team. 

But why exactly is L&D so focused on digital upskilling? There’s a growing digital skills gap among workers, which means the skill set of the average worker is being outpaced by technological growth. 

According to the World Economic Forum, around 85 million jobs will be displaced globally by 2025, thanks to evolving digital technologies, like automations.  

The UK, in particular, is feeling the pressure from the digital skills gap. As high as 82% of job descriptions require some sort of digital competency, yet around one-third of vacancies are tough to fill due to a lack of digital knowledge. 

A proper digital upskilling programme starts with a skills gap analysis. Check out our free training needs analysis template to help you get started.

Training Needs Analysis Template

Simplify your training needs analysis with our free template

From there, L&D is in a prime position to offer flexible and engaging learning opportunities in the flow of work. Employees can shadow colleagues across departments, host skillshares to pass on internal knowledge, or participate in asynchronous online courses. This, in turn, gives employees a variety of ways to upskill at the moment those skills are needed.

Benefits of digital upskilling

The benefits of digital upskilling go way beyond the organisational level. Employees who participate in upskilling opportunities become more confident and engaged in their work.

Plus, it turns out most of your employees are actively seeking ways to stay competitive in the changing job market. A reported 77% of workers around the world want to gain new skills—and employees are more likely to stay with a company that supports their career growth. 

Clearly, L&D teams who prioritise upskilling now will have a leg up in the years to come. Not only will they see higher employee engagement, but they’ll also have gained subject-matter experts (SMEs) to help them stay competitive in evolving markets. 

Let’s take a look at the major benefits of digital upskilling for both the employee and the workplace.

Benefits of digital upskilling for employees: 

  • Boosts productivity. Employees who feel more confident in their ability to do their job are more likely motivated to stay engaged. 
  • Lessens the risk of being replaced by automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t going anywhere: Around 1.5 million jobs in the UK are at risk of being disrupted by automation. Workers who embrace AI, rather than ignore or work against it, will be better able to prepare for changing workplace practices.  
  • Advances career growth. Millennials and Gen Z make up a majority of today’s workforce (and are our future business leaders). These younger generations are particularly interested in career advancement and seek out employers who support employee mobility.

Benefits of digital upskilling for the workplace: 

  • Fosters a continuous learning culture. Digital upskilling is most effective when employees can gain knowledge directly in the flow of their work. A continuous learning culture encourages employees to seek out learning opportunities in their own time, at their own pace. 
  • Improves employee retention. Employees are more likely to remain loyal to a company when they feel supported on their learning journey. In a recent study, 74% of millennials and Gen Z reported they were likely to leave a job due to a lack of upskilling opportunities
  • Saves money in the long run. By now, we all know replacing an employee with an outside hire is expensive—in fact, it can cost up to two times that employee’s salary. Upskilling fosters in-house expertise to make internal hiring an easier and more budget-friendly lift.  

Manage digital upskilling with a collaborative learning platform 

Clearly, the modern worker is ready to level up their skill sets. L&D is in a prime position to solve the digital divide with an upskilling programme that’s relevant and engaging.

A continuous learning environment fosters bottom-up learning and encourages employees to become lifelong learners. This, in turn, leads to more engaged workers and increased productivity—which supports your bottom line. 

A modern learning management system (LMS) fueled by collaboration is the key to successfully managing digital upskilling. Plus, these platforms are designed to handle a full life cycle of a learning process:

  • Allows workers to declare their own learning needs.
  • Features simple and effective course authoring for in-house subject matter experts (SMEs).
  • Encourages open communication among workers and keeps learning content relevant. 
  • Makes every step of the learning process engaging, with interactive elements like badges and leaderboards.  

Interested to know how you can foster digital upskilling through a collaborative learning platform? Get in touch with one of our learning experts to find out more. 

See a preview of 360Learning

  • Brief video tour of the platform

  • Overview of the UX for learners, authors, and admins

  • Inside look at collaborative learning in action