9 in 10 U.K. workers must learn new digital skills by 2030, according to new Salesforce and IDC research

Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, today published new findings in partnership with IDC highlighting the scale of the U.K.’s growing digital skills crisis, and called on government and business to prioritise reskilling to boost post-pandemic recovery.

As the U.K. economy looks to post-pandemic recovery in a new, digital-first world, the changing nature of jobs poses challenges for workers in every industry. According to IDC, one in six U.K. workers have low or no digital skills. By 2030, nine out of 10 workers will need to learn new skills to do their jobs, at a cost of £1.3 billion a year.

COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of all aspects of society, and businesses have had to pivot to serve customers online. Next year, nearly two-thirds (65%) of global GDP will be driven by digitised products and services. This need to go digital first is felt by 89% of CEOs who say they are under increased pressure to digitally transform their business due to the pandemic; one in three U.K. organisations are planning to create new digital tools and services.

“The accelerated shift to digital is having a major impact on the jobs we do and the skills we need for a resilient and prosperous future,” said Zahra Bahrololoumi, UK & Ireland CEO, Salesforce. “Speaking from my own experience, a lack of formal digital education is not a barrier to career success in that future. Digital skills are much quicker and easier to gain than many people realise. This new IDC report clearly captures the need, and opportunity, for business and government to step up and partner on dynamic programs that drive a life-long love of digital learning and engage everyone. By upskilling and reskilling across our society we will unlock greater potential for productivity, innovation and happiness.”

In what IDC has previously coined the “Salesforce Economy,” the growth and jobs impact of Salesforce and its ecosystem of partners and customers will, between 2020 and 2025, create 81,500 direct jobs through its cloud technologies. While 58,300 of these will be in technical roles that require specialist skills, many others including those in sales and marketing, HR and finance, will require enhanced levels of digital proficiency. 

Salesforce has seen a 50% increase in Trailhead users learning skills for marketing based roles in the past year. Trailhead, its free online learning platform, democratises digital learning by taking participants from a low-level of technical knowledge to a Salesforce role in as little as six months.

The IDC Skills Infobrief report highlights the significant opportunities for digital transformation of the U.K.'s economy and workforce, but true recovery will require investment from government and business. The report identifies ICT and non-ICT professionals as key target groups for upskilling and reskilling but also points to tackling the U.K.’s growing unemployed population with support. Notably, 37% of the UK’s unemployed have an advanced education with relevant, adjacent skillsets that make them good candidates for quick and effective reskilling. Without appropriate action to address the digital shortage, the report warns that the post-pandemic U.K. economy runs the risk of being undermined.

Jacqueline de Rojas, techUK President and Chair of the Fast Forward for Digital Jobs Taskforce, said, "The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation tenfold - thousands of technology jobs have been created during the past 16 months and this trend is set to continue in the years to come. Still, there is a significant digital skills gap that prevents many people from accessing these jobs. The new findings published by Salesforce in collaboration with IDC highlight how crucial it is that immediate action is taken to close the digital skills gap and instil a behavioural change that inspires people to continue retraining as new technologies emerge and new skills are needed."

Marianne Kolding, Vice President, European Skills Research at IDC, said, “The lack of IT and digital skills is impacting organisations across all business measurements, such as revenue growth and delays in rolling out new products and services. According to our research, on average organisations are seeing a delay of 8.1 months in their digital transformation efforts – and that's costly. IDC estimates that by 2024, this will result in lost revenues of around £192 billion annually for European organisations. This is an issue that needs to be addressed." 

The release of the IDC report follows Salesforce’s launch of its Trailblazer Community platform committed to democratising learning and helping people gain entry to in-demand tech jobs, and the commissioning of RAND Europe to conduct extensive research on digital skills gaps.


In the latest episode of the techUK podcast, we are delighted to kick off a new series, The Reskilling Imperative, powered by Salesforce. Across four episodes the series will explore a range of issues relating to the digital skills gap - how do we ensure that the UK workforce has the necessary skills to thrive in the workplace of today and the future, how can tech companies ensure an inclusive workforce and support those from underrepresented and marginalised communities prosper, and how can business leaders support the upskilling of their current workforce to ensure they have the opportunity to continuously develop digital skills.