Digital skills strong but jobs outstrip workers

Adrian Doran of Barclays NI
Adrian Doran of Barclays NI

Northern Ireland employees are second only to those in London for their didgital skills but are still in too short supply according to a national survey.

The Barclays Digital Development Index 2017, which analysed 88,000 UK job advertisements, found that 70 per cent of jobs available in the province require basic digital skills such as word-processing, database spreadsheet or social media management skills.

However, a separate assessment of 6,000 UK adults found that only 57 per cent of the Northern Irish workforce have these capabilities, with the skills gap most profound amongst older workers.

The research highlights a major local skills gap, which, if not addressed, it says will worsen as those skills become even more vital to businesses.

If local people were to upskill their digital capabilities, the job advert analysis shows that employers will pay an additional salary premium of up to £10,000 a year for more advanced digital skills including programming and software design.

Over five to ten years, this additional income could make all the difference to someone saving for a house deposit, feeling the financial squeeze of caring for relatives, covering tuition fees or saving for retirement, particularly in the current economic climate where inflation is outstripping wage growth.

“People’s level of digital capability is fast becoming a key determinant of their earning power, as is particularly evident in Northern Ireland said Adrian Doran, Barclays head of corporate banking NI.

“The digital skills gap is widely reported and these statistics highlight the importance of including digital skills in our education and training programmes to ensure Northern Ireland has the workforce it needs for the future economy. The recent influx of global firms establishing a base here means that skills demand is higher than ever. With a limited pool, this competition means businesses are willing to pay above market rate to secure top digital talent - it’s definitely a seller’s market right now if you have the right digital skills.

“At a time when wage growth is so important to families in Northern Ireland, we need to act fast to improve our home-grown digital skills if we are to stay at the forefront of the global digital economy post-Brexit.”