Quarter of Small Businesses Don’t Have Basic IT Skills

Government report reveals that firms could be missing out on web opportunities as link between digital skills and high turnover is found

Quarter of Small Businesses Don’t Have Basic IT Skills

A quarter of the UK’s small and medium business owners admit that they lack basic digital skills and could be missing out on opportunities over the web, as new government research points to strong correlation between digital skills and high turnover.

The report, entitled Digital Capabilities in SMEs, featured 803 small firms and was conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) which found that, while 98% of small businesses use the internet for business purposes, only 64% have a website.

Most business owners used the web for online banking and to email customers but only 20% used the internet for ecommerce sales.

Of the businesses that didn’t have a website, a staggering 77% said they believed a site was not necessary.

Other reasons small businesses gave for not having an online presence included cost (18%), not enough time (17%) and lack of knowledge (8%).

The DBIS said the findings revealed an “attitudinal barrier amongst a minority of small and medium towards developing an online presence, a lack of awareness about the benefits and opportunities available, and a lack of understanding about online security threats” – which was also present in how small firms approach social media.

Only 36% of small businesses said they had a social media platform (Facebook was the most popular) but91% of that figure said using  social media had helped to promote  goods and services (91%) and another 29% said social media had encouraged direct sales.

The report suggested that digital courses and awareness-raising initiatives should be provided to businesses through existing local, private and third sector networks; and for the long term it recommended that digital learning should be embedded in the UK education system to help improve digital skills.

The full report is available here.

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