William Eichler 06 June 2022

Councils urged to boost local digital skills

Councils urged to boost local digital skills  image
Image: Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock.com.

Local authorities have been urged to do more to help small businesses with digital skills training as evidence suggests business owners and employees are struggling to keep up with the social media revolution.

A new paper by social media specialists Maybe, entitled Levelling up the digital skills gap: How local authorities can help businesses transform their digital skills in response to evolving consumer behaviour, has revealed that many small businesses struggle to engage with consumers online and our held back by a digital skills shortage.

The study found that while 79.1% of consumers spend over seven hours a week on social media, of those businesses with social media accounts, only 29.2% are spending more than five hours a week managing their accounts or creating content. This is despite the fact that 43.1% of surveyed businesses make over a quarter of their sales online, and 31% of them sell services or products that are only available online.

Maybe said there was ‘clear evidence’ of demand for more training, with 65.6% of respondent businesses interested in accessing support/training to help them grow their business, 58.3% wanting support with digital skills for social media, 51.9% needing help with marketing and 46.2% looking for assistance with digital skills for e-commerce and web.

‘Our research suggests that there is both a significant opportunity and a major risk for businesses and their local economies,” said Polly Barnfield, CEO of Maybe.

‘There is clearly significant demand for quality local provision of a wide range of products and services that address consumer needs, but also a large gap between how local businesses communicate and where consumers go for information, advice, and to comment. There is an urgent need to upskill businesses, evidenced by 65.6% of businesses surveyed, who are keen to access support and training to help them grow their business.

‘Moreover, the findings in this White Paper are all relevant to the Government’s Levelling Up objectives, from boosting productivity, pay, jobs and living standards by growing the private sector; to restoring a sense of community, local pride and belonging, and empowering local leaders and communities, especially in those places lacking local agency.

‘If businesses in a location can successfully exploit social media and thrive, this will support the delivery of a number of the SPF investment priorities.’

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