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  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

Skills gap in digital workforce has a multibillion-euro gap: Google's "Bridging the Gap" reports

A recent report published by Google on digital capabilities in Irish SMEs talks about today's digital skill gap. "Bridging the Gap" is a 33-page report which gained news traction through analysis. The result came out that closing the gap may require multibillion-euro.



The digital infrastructure spectated a considerable shift in growth in the last two years. The business started pivoting online for the first time and experienced the true capabilities of global connectivity and its features. Even though the pandemic accelerated digital adoption in Irish SMEs, research shows its actual result. It says 80 per cent of European small businesses increased their use of digital tools. And all that happened during the pandemic.

Google commissioned Amárach to engage with Irish SMEs and collect their living experience in the post-pandemic journey. SMEs remain the backbone of the Irish economy, where 99 per cent of account for active enterprises and 70 per cent of employment. So, it is crucial to judge the numbers and act accordingly.


As SMEs digitalised themselves and understood the necessity of the adoption, they felt like a gap had been made. The gap between digital adoption and their business goals. Investment in digital skills to close that gap may result in Ireland's GDP in 2025 being €9.5 billion higher (€544.2 billion) than currently forecast.


The report found four significant dimensions to harness the Digital Ireland Framework. Number one is the digital transformation of business; the second is infrastructure; the third is skills, and lastly, the digitalisation of public services. According to the data, 75 per cent of enterprises will be working in the cloud, along with Big Data and AI, by 2030. Ninety per cent of digital intensity will be covered within 2030.


All households will come under the Gigabit network by 2028, and all populated areas will receive 5G within 2030. Taking the last numbers into the calculation, by 2030, 80 per cent of the adults will have the basic digital skills, and 90 per cent of services consumed online will increase.


The bridge is not over yet, and we have a few gap points to mention. In Goggle's survey of over 1,000 SMEs, the specific gaps can be primarily named the Performance Gap, Competence Gap, Investment Gap and the Advisory Gap.


The report mentioned that one in seven SME leaders felt they had the necessary skill "to successfully adopt and use new technology." Nearly half of the IT teams admitted they would struggle if funding for the digital skills were not in accordance to need. On the bright side, one in six IT teams were confident that they had the skills fit for the future.


The Amárach research went down to the NUTS3 level (including Border, West, Midlands, etc.) and took responses from SMEs. The South-West firms are more likely to say they are less than halfway there to reach potential goals, where 53 per cent of firms in the Border region said: "building their online presence is top 3 detail skills priority vs 37 per cent in the South-East."


Of course, skill gaps will always be present no matter where we go. But region or country wise, having a strict plan to counter as much as possible guarantees a digital future. One in three SMEs were "not confident they know where to get support for digital skills." This type of investment will make sure they get the knowledge of knowing where proper skills are provided.


It is not to have the skill and not know how to. It is another thing not to have the capability of gaining knowledge on what's out there. The investment will ensure this gap is closed for the Irish people and promise a digital future.

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