Why UK SMEs must attend government-funded Skills Bootcamps to reduce digital talent shortages

To help drive UK SME growth, Kate Burnett, General Manager of the marketing trade body’s Talent division, discusses why government-funded training will be essential

Why UK SMEs must attend government-funded Skills Bootcamps

The SME community is desperate for talent with a range of digital skills, and this need continues to grow, as does the skillsets that are desirable.

Digital skills gaps will only worsen if, as a business community, we do not actively seek a culture change now – towards investing in our employee skillsets through upskilling.

A recent UK SME survey found that 29% of those surveyed said the ongoing shortage of skilled workers poses a high or very high risk for their business – so much so that their digital modernisation ambitions have stalled, due to a lack of job-ready digital talent.

Government invests in your talent

Brexit, followed by covid, and now high inflation has left many businesses, particularly SMEs, with limited training resources and it’s a brave organisation that chooses to invest precious funds and employee resource in such times.

Yet investing in your people and building greater data literacy and digital skills is exactly what will fuel growth. Beyond attracting and retaining the best talent, investing in data and digital skills will enable business to implement new technology, boost productivity and innovation.

In an age where technology and businesses’ digital requirements are rapidly evolving, the future success of SMEs will not just be dependent on investing in the latest technological advancements. It will require skilled personnel to interpret customer data, analyse trends and insights, enhance AI algorithms, and integrate the latest software into operations.

The government has recognised SME’s rising demand thanks to industry bodies’, like the Data & Marketing Association (DMA UK), ongoing lobbying and has just expanded the skills portfolio of Skills Bootcamps accordingly.

There is a government-funded training programme launching in London and Leeds in October 2023 – the new Data Strategy, Analytics and Measurement Skills Bootcamps, funded by the Department for Education (DfE) through its Skills for Life Programme.

This is a great opportunity for the SME community, as this type of government-funded training will help them to better understand, acquire and analyse their customers’ data insights, which is vital for enhanced customer engagement and retention. 

Data-driven marketing insights are essential for developing more meaningful relationships with customers, which leads to sustainable business growth. These data-focused Skills Bootcamps will help SMEs, with limited training budgets, to understand and engage with their customers better – SME employers will need to contribute just 10% of the fee and 90% will be government funded.

What makes Skills Bootcamps unique is that they are available and relevant to everyone within a SME – whether that be the owner trying to deliver meaningful growth for their business or a multi-tasking employee looking to better understand why data is an organisation’s greatest asset.

Short-term investment creates long-term returns

It is important that the government has listened to industry’s advice, as digital talent shortages continue to impede UK SME growth – so government-funded skills support remains essential.

There is a vast amount of talent out there within SME organisations ready to advance their digital skillsets – but SMEs must act now to take advantage of government investment while it is available – hundreds of SMEs have already signed up to other programmes which are making them more productive and effective.

A short-term investment of your precious time will lead to long-term results for the business.

Further information about these Skills Bootcamps can be found here.

Kate Burnett
Kate Burnett

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