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Welsh Workers’ Digital Skills Lag Behind the Rest of the UK


New research from Barclays reveals that digital skills are so in demand in Wales that Welsh employers are willing to pay more than most of their counterparts across the nation for workers with word processing, data analysis and social media capabilities (£11,529 for “expert” skills versus the national average of £10,000).

The Barclays Digital Development Index 2017, which analysed 88,000 UK job adverts and 6,000 adults found almost a quarter (24 per cent) of jobs advertised in Wales require advanced digital skills such as graphic design, data analysis or 3D modelling, this compares to a national average of 15 per cent. Welsh employers are also willing to more for these skills compared to most other UK employers.

Across the UK, employers will pay a premium of up to £10,000 a year for digital skills including programming and software design, enabling workers to generate £100k of wealth in just ten years. Earnings boosts of £3,000 a year are also up for grabs for those with graphic design, data and 3D modelling skills.

However, employees in Wales score amongst the lowest of all UK regions for their digital skills. Wales ranks in 10th place overall – above just the East of England and the South East for digital skills. Welsh respondents score only 5.28 out of 10 in a test of digital skills commissioned for The Index.

Also, while 1 in 5 (20 percent) of individuals in Wales are aware of local digital training being available, only 4 per cent have taken action and made use of this.

The nationwide picture

Digital skills across the UK are not keeping pace with demand. The Barclays Index finds that 63 per cent of UK jobs require digital skills such as word-processing, database spreadsheet or social media management skills, but only 57 per cent of the workforce have these capabilities. This mismatch will worsen as digital skills become even more vital to British businesses.

And although they have up to 30 years left in their working lives, it seems Generation X (35-54 year olds) are being left behind. Those aged 35-44 are 11 per cent less likely than their millennial colleagues to say they are confident about their digital skills. Generation X workers are also more worried about their ability to keep their skills up-to-date (21.5 per cent have confidence in their ability to do so, versus 28 per cent for millennials).

Education also boosts digital scores; Masters Graduates score 35 per cent higher than those who leave school without any qualifications. And those in management positions score far better in the tests than those in junior positions, and 20 per cent above the UK average.

Kath Myers, Barclays Community Banking Managing Director for Wales said;

“People’s level of digital prowess is fast becoming a key determinant of their earning power, yet the UK today is a patchwork of digital skills. Where you live, how old you are, what you do and your education level have an impact on your digital abilities and confidence.

“Digital skills can provide a vital boost to household finances and everyone deserves the opportunity to benefit from this. At a time when wage growth is so important to families in Wales, we must act fast to improve our home-grown digital skills if Wales is to compete in the global digital economy post-Brexit.”