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Digital Skills Crisis: Four in Five UK Workers Say They Are Unequipped for the Future of Work

  • Over three-quarters of the global workforce do not feel ready to operate in a digital-first world, according to Salesforce’s Global Digital Skills Index
  • This figure increases to 80% in the UK, with 43% of UK workers also saying they feel ‘overwhelmed’ by the rate of technological change
  • Index shows major gap emerging between everyday digital skills and those needed for work, especially among younger workers
  • Using collaboration technologies viewed as the most important digital workplace skill for workers over the next five years
  • Previous research from Salesforce and IDC suggests that nine in 10 UK workers will need to learn new skills by 2030

London, — January 27, 2022
— Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, today published its Global Digital Skills Index, revealing a growing global digital skills crisis and the urgent need for action.

Based on insights from over 23,500 respondents in 19 countries, the Index looks at workers’ readiness to acquire the key digital skills needed by business today and over the next five years. Over two-thirds (70%) of workers in the UK don’t feel equipped to learn the digital skills needed by businesses now, rising to four in five (80%) that don’t feel equipped for the future. This compares to 72% globally who don’t feel equipped now, and 76% who don’t feel equipped for the future.

Asked about how they feel about the rate of technological change in the workplace, 43% of UK workers reported feeling ‘overwhelmed’, while a quarter (26%) said they were ‘fearful’. Despite these concerns, just 19% of workers in the UK are very actively involved in digital skills learning and training programs.

Zahra Bahrololoumi, UKI CEO, Salesforce, said: “Reskilling is clearly a national priority and we all have a responsibility to help people navigate learning and equip them to seize the opportunities of a digital-first future. By using our scale, ecosystem, and resources as a platform for change, we can provide alternative pathways to training, often free and online, to ensure that our increasingly connected world stands for success across all of society.”

The global digital skills gap

This gap is a concern – but it also presents an opportunity. With companies around the world rapidly transitioning to digital-first models, the demand for employees with digital skills has soared. The Salesforce Index’s overall global score for digital readiness, assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access, and active participation in digital up-skilling, is currently only 33 out of 100. The UK scores a total of 21 out of 100.

The countries represented in the survey ranged from 63 to 15, highlighting that while certain countries feel more digitally ready than others, there is an urgent need for global investment to close the digital skills gap and build a more inclusive workforce.

Emerging nations are most confident about digital readiness

Respondents in emerging nations India, Mexico and Brazil are more confident than those in developed nations about their digital future. India has the Index’s highest digital readiness score (63 out of 100), with 76% of respondents in India feel equipped today for a digital skills-led workplace and 69% are actively learning new digital skills.

RAND Europe’s recent The Global Digital Skills Gap report indicates that certain countries will be more impacted by the digital skills gap than others, depending on their economic structure, industries and labor distribution. Concerns of higher risk may be driving a bigger, faster commitment to digital education — India’s digital skills gap has the greatest GDP growth risk at an average of 2.3% every year, followed by Mexico at 1.8% GDP. The United Kingdom and Australia, on the other hand, sit at just 0.5%.

Everyday digital skills don’t translate to the workplace

Everyday skills such as social media and web navigation don’t necessarily translate to the core workplace digital skills needed by business to drive recovery, resilience, and growth.

More than two thirds of all Gen Z respondents (64%) say they have advanced social media skills — supporting the stereotype of digital mastery among the younger generation — but less than a third (31%) believe they have the advanced digital workplace skills needed by businesses now.

While the vast majority of respondents in North America (83%), Europe (82%), and Asia-Pacific (70%) have ‘advanced’ or ‘intermediate’ social media skills, only a third in each (31%, 24%, and 34%, respectively) feel prepared for the workplace digital skills needed over the next five years.

Reskilling the workforce

Over half of Index respondents (51%) want to learn new skills to help them grow their career. By harnessing the potential of existing workforces, businesses can speed progress towards closing their skills gaps.

The Index also reveals that younger respondents have greater confidence and ambition to learn new skills — 83% of Gen Z respondents are ‘actively’ learning and training for skills needed over the next five years compared to 12% of Baby Boomers. Businesses have a major opportunity to nurture young talent by providing tailored, ‘always on’ training that will help drive growth and innovation, increase equity and engagement and create strong leaders for the future.

The most important digital skills needed by businesses today

According to the Salesforce Index, skills in collaboration technology are viewed as the most important digital workplace skill for workers today and over the next five years. But despite respondents’ prowess with everyday collaboration technology like social media, only 25% rate themselves advanced in those collaboration technology skills needed specifically for the workplace.

Business has a critical role to play

Now more than ever, businesses have a responsibility to act to address the growing global skills gap. Salesforce is committed to investing in the future workforce through our diverse set of workforce development programs, including:

  • Trailblazer Community, a global network of 15 million people across the Salesforce ecosystem who help each other learn new skills and succeed with Salesforce.
  • Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform which has helped more than 3.9 million people skill up for the future of work.
  • Pathfinder Training Program, a workforce development program that prepares individuals with the technical, business, and soft skills needed to pursue a career in the Salesforce ecosystem.
  • Salesforce Military, which offers free online training classes and certification exams at no cost for active-duty military, veterans, and military spouses. Salesforce also connects participants with potential employers.
  • Salesforce Talent Alliance, an initiative that connects Salesforce partner companies to job candidates trained on Salesforce through Trailhead and brings new talent into the fast-growing ecosystem.
  • Trailblazer Connect, which helps people connect to mentorship and career opportunities through events and online resources.

Jacqueline de Rojas, techUK President, said:

“There is an urgent need for action to fix the digital skills crisis. Salesforce’s Digital Skills Index shows how unprepared our global society and economy are in front of this crisis and stresses the need for collaboration if we are to retrain employees and prepare the future generations for the jobs of tomorrow.

“The Index clearly reveals most of its respondents are willing and ready to learn new digital skills. It is crucial that businesses now work in collaboration with governments and the rest of the industry to close the digital skills gap and ensure people are trained and retrained efficiently to fulfill their personal and professional growth and support an increasingly digitalised economy.”

Peter Schwartz, SVP for Strategic Planning and Chief Futures Officer, Salesforce, said:

“There’s a gap between the frontier of innovation and the skills necessary to use those innovations. That in itself, is not new. But what is new, is the scope of that innovation, how widespread it is, how it has diffused in every aspect of life. It is hard to do almost anything these days without some form of digital interaction.”

More information:

Watch Salesforce’s new Trailblazer Series on Salesforce+

About Salesforce

Salesforce, the global CRM leader, empowers companies of every size and industry to digitally transform and create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit:

About Salesforce

Salesforce, the global CRM leader, empowers companies of every size and industry to digitally transform and create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit:

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