Within the next 10 to 20 years, 90% of jobs will require some sort of digital skills. Yet 37% of workers in Europe don’t have basic digital skills.

It's not difficult to see that there is an ever-growing gap between the in-demand skills of the future and the abilities of the current workforce. By some estimates, this gap could cost the UK a whopping £141 billion in GDP growth.

But for forward-thinking business, there's a major opportunity hidden in the digital skills gap "crisis". With the right approach to employee learning and development, you can beat the odds and stay ahead of the game.

What is the digital skills gap?

The digital skills gap is the lack of digital skills in the existing workforce compared to the current and projected demand for growth in technological industries.

And it's got more than a few businesses on their toes.

79% of UK-based CEOs see the availability of key skills as a top business threat that will impact their growth prospects in the next 12 months. That's largely because, when you don't have the technical talent you need, revenue-generating innovation takes a hit, while workforce costs escalate.

"Companies are unable to pursue growth opportunities, key initiatives are cancelled and quality standards can slip," say the report's authors.

How to overcome the digital skills gap

74% of people surveyed in PWC’s Workforce of the Future report said they were ready to learn new skills or re-train to remain employable in the future, proving that modern, relevant skills are on everyone's wish list, not just employers'.

Apprenticeships have a huge role to play in addressing this gap. Apprenticeships are no longer simply the preserve of manual jobs in traditional industries, the fastest growing ones are in digital and tech.

They are brilliant for people starting their careers. Apprentices like Joanna, who is studying a Business Administration apprenticeship at Unilever. Originally from Newcastle, she relocated to London at the start of her programme.

I figured out pretty early that academic life wasn’t the best fit for me. When I was 16, finishing my GCSEs, I didn’t know of any option other than A-Levels.
I started looking at entry-level jobs when I left school. I didn’t want to miss out on any of those life experiences like moving out, so I moved from my home in Newcastle to London to meet new people and get some new experiences. I was working full-time in a restaurant when I first came across Multiverse. That was the first time I realised you could get into companies like Unilever, Morgan Stanley and Facebook through apprenticeships.
Now, on my programme I get to learn about all the different functions of a business while working at a really exciting big company. I’m almost a year into the apprenticeship - I’ve enjoyed it so much that now I’m thinking about maybe doing a degree-level apprenticeship or a higher level apprenticeship to broaden out my skills.

Read Joanna's story

Apprentices work within, and learn from, your business. They spend 20% of their time doing off the job training, normally provided in partnership with a training provider.

You can tailor an apprentice’s training to fit your business needs using government funding to cover a significant percentage of the costs.

Apprentices get real experience and a guaranteed salary, while employers get a fresh injection of talent. It's a true win-win.