Over 50 businesses attended a 'Digital Skills' business breakfast briefing this week, organised by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
To help improve skills locally, drive up productivity and business performance, the LLEP is creating a Digital Skills Partnership. A key aim is to support a digitally skilled workforce, whatever the sector. Task based groups will look at practical help for local businesses – how to find the training and skills needed and how that will translate into everyday business benefits.
Digitisation has turned from a “nice to have” to a “must-have”, but research published on Gov.UK indicates 21% of people in the UK have little or no digital skills.
In March 2021 the LLEP published the Local Skills Report that sets out the current state of play on skills in Leicester and Leicestershire, the impact of Covid and Brexit on employer demand for skills, and what we need to do to address this demand. One of the key strands running through the report is digital skills. With the unprecedented shift to digital in the last 18 months, the Digital Skills Partnership will help businesses solve their digital skills needs.
The LLEP’s Business Tracker Survey also reported that over a third of employers surveyed said that they needed to improve digital and IT skills because they have staff that are not able to fully use all the digital systems and software within the business.
Stewart Smith, Business Intelligence Partner at the LLEP is leading the Digital Skills Partnership. He said:
“According to the research we carried out last year, the main digital skills gaps are in digital marketing, social media literacy and programming skills. Businesses have bespoke needs for their internal systems as well as basic requirements such as needing staff to use spreadsheets more effectively.
“It was clear that there are perceived barriers when it comes to improving digital skills including time, cost, relevance to the business, red tape around funding and motivation to explore the options at the end of a busy day.”
To support skills development the LLEP has the tools to find out what skills are in most demand across Leicester and Leicestershire by reviewing advertised vacancies and the skills they are looking for.
There are currently 38,000 live job vacancies across Leicester and Leicestershire, the majority which use digital skills in some way. Over the last 12 months 102,000 vacancies were advertised and analysis shows that 8,154 were digital specific jobs.
All this data will help the LLEP to work with skills, education and training providers and voluntary and community sectors to offer the right qualifications and training to meet employer needs.
In addition, through the Business Gateway Growth Hub, the LLEP is supporting business owners directly to improve their digital capability.
Ian Lockwood, Director at Boom Online Marketing, said:
“I am offering fully funded digital business support through the Business Gateway, and so far, have helped 37 businesses.
“Most have wanted help with digital marketing, web development, challenges with IT infrastructure or software tools for systems and processes.
“My advice and consultancy are free, and you can have half an hour for a quick chat or up to eight hours. I can provide a full digital audit to identify the areas for improvement.”
Sue Jerham is the owner of National Forest EBike Holidays. She said:
“I’m a digital business but my digital skills are not so good. I needed help to improve my website SEO and Google rankings. I also wanted to understand what would make the biggest difference to my business.
“I’m delighted that I asked for help from Ian at the Business Gateway. It was just what I needed. He did a complete SEO audit and advised what was working well, so did not need attention, what did not work well, why it did not work and what could work better.
“I could ask questions where I was not clear and got advice what to change and how to change it. I also got some excellent help with paid social media advertising from Liam Lally. I’ve come away with a clear action plan which has given me confidence. Digital is no longer a ‘Dark Art’! I now know what I am doing and why I am doing it.”
The webinar also introduced businesses to Peer Networks, a fully funded programme designed for SME business leaders who want to grow and develop their organisation for future success. Guided by a sector expert, Peer Networks bring together small groups of businesses to share ideas and create solutions to the challenges they all face.
The webinar concluded with an overview of Skills for the Workforce, a European Social Funded programme that offers fully funded accredited training from Level 1 to 3 and covers a whole range of digital qualifications for employees.
Any business who wants to find out more about the Digital Skills Partnership and how it can help them tap into improving digital skills can contact Stewart Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on fully funded digital business support, Peer Networks and Skills for the Workforce can be found on the Business Gateway Growth Hub website at www.bizgateway.org.uk
You can find the LLEP Skills Report and Business Tracker Survey at www.llep.org.uk