Only 16pc of people in the UK would be comfortable building a website, compared with 39pc in Brazil and 37pc in India.
This is according to a Barclays study which estimates the digital skills gap is costing the UK economy £63bn annually in lost GDP.
A failure to keep up with digital advancements and invest in digital skills could hamper the UK’s ability to compete economically on the world stage, according to the Barclays Digital Development Index, which benchmarks 10 countries around the world on their readiness to compete in the digital economy.
The study, which attributes an overarching ‘digital empowerment’ score to each nation, found that the UK came in fourth place behind new and emerging ‘digital tiger’ economies Estonia, South Korea and Sweden.
‘As the UK considers its future outside the European Union, we have to remember that the race to become the most digitally savvy economy is global and not confined to Europe’
– ASHOK VASWANI, BARCLAYS UK
When it comes to individuals’ assessment of their own digital skills and confidence, the UK trails major economic rivals India, China and the US.
Barclays found that only 13pc of those surveyed in the UK use password-generating software to create hard-to-crack passwords, compared to 32pc in China and 32pc in India. Only 41pc of people in the UK change important passwords regularly, compared to 59pc in India, while only 38pc of people in the UK never save or store payment information on online accounts, compared to 58pc in South Africa.
In terms of content creation, the study found only 16pc of those in the UK would be very comfortable building a website, compared to 39pc in Brazil and 37pc in India. Only 11pc of people in the UK would be very comfortable creating a mobile app or game, compared to 22pc in the US, 27pc in Brazil, or 33pc in India. Only 12pc of people in the UK feel very comfortable creating a software programme or game, compared to 23pc in the US or 33pc in India.
The findings were based on a survey of almost 10,000 working adults combined with analysis of policy frameworks and support for the development of digital skills in each country.
“As the UK considers its future outside the European Union, we have to remember that the race to become the most digitally savvy economy is global and not confined to Europe,” said Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK. “It is a race that will define how successful and prosperous we are for decades to come.
“The UK’s current strengths are clear: our children are being taught digital skills at school, the government’s policy is coherent and the private and voluntary sectors co-ordinate well. But the UK’s competitors in this race are developing faster and significant investment in digital skills is the only way for us to win it.”
13m UK adults lack basic digital skills
The research comes on the heels of a damning report by a parliamentary commitee last month which found that not only does the UK face a digital skills crisis with almost 13m adults lacking basic digital skills, but warned of the spectre of digital exclusion in social and economic affairs.
“As the recent report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills highlighted, though, digital skills are not just something that one acquires once, like how to wire a plug or drive a car,” Barclays said in a response to the parliamentary report. “They need constant updating to keep up with technology advances and a changing workplace.
That is why Barclays believes the conversation should shift to a more holistic approach to digital skills.“We believe that digital progress should be viewed in broad terms including awareness levels, confidence with, experience and knowledge of ‘digital’, not just the narrow lens of formal qualifications.
Also, whilst it is important that the vulnerable and digitally excluded in particular are not neglected, we also want to ensure the ‘forgotten middle’ – those who are unaware, too embarrassed and/or unconfident to seek help – progress with their digital learning.”
UK image via Shutterstock