No Longer Optional

Employer Demand for Digital Skills

Digital skills are becoming near-universal requirements for employment . A new analysis by Burning Glass Technologies finds digital skills are essential entry requirements for two-thirds of UK SOC occupations and carry a wage premium over non-digital roles.

No Longer Optional: Employer Demand for Digital Skills, was commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and finds the move up the career ladder from low- to high-skill jobs in the UK comes with increased demand for digital skills. Acquiring specific digital skills makes career progression as well as a pay increase more likely. In certain fields, job seekers need to develop digital skills related to specific technical tools of their chosen discipline to advance their careers.

Digital skills are near-universal requirements: ‘Baseline’ digital skills such as Microsoft Office and other productivity software tools are commonly required in jobs across all skills levels and have become a ticket to entry in the labour market. When breaking the job market down by skill level into low-, middle-, and high-skill roles, we find that over 75% of job openings at each level request digital skills.

Digital skills carry a wage differential: Overall, roles requiring digital skills pay 29% (£8,300 per annum) over those roles that do not (£37,000 p.a. vs £28,700 p.a.). This difference is apparent at all skill levels, but the differential increases at higher levels. The salary differential for digital skills ranges from £2,700 for low-skill jobs (£24,000 vs £21,300), £5,800 for middle-skill jobs (£32,200 vs £26,400) and £11,300 for high-skill jobs (£45,300 vs £34,000).

Digital skills are in demand everywhere: Digital skills are required in at least 82% of online advertised openings across the UK but the precise skills demanded are not uniform across the country. For example, the capital region has the greatest demand with 87% of advertised roles, spread across almost all sectors while the West Midlands has a slightly lower demand at 82% of roles, but the well-developed manufacturing sector means that machining and engineering software skills are required in 24% of those roles.

Specific digital skills may help workers avoid the risk of automation: By entering a role that requires specific digital skills, workers can reduce their risk of automation by a dramatic 59%. Specific digital skills commonly complement uniquely human skills such as design, writing or communication, which in combination are difficult to automate and critical to a firm’s success.

Specific digital skills promote career progression: To maximise chances of success in the digital economy, job seekers must go beyond baseline digital skills and develop more specific skills. Importantly, these specific digital skills are not solely required in the tech sector but are in demand across all sectors of the economy. This may include digital tools such as Adobe Photoshop for designers; computer-aided design for engineers and manufacturing workers; customer relationship management software for sales and marketing professionals; and computer programming and networking for IT professionals. These specific digital skills are required in 28% of low-skill jobs, 56% of middle-skill jobs, and 68% of high-skill jobs.

UK Digital Skills; Demand for Digital Skills in the UK by Region

This report was commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Burning Glass Technologies is solely responsible for its content. Views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect those of the DCMS or its affiliates.