Small business employees take on tech challenges themselves

The UK small business workforce is a nation of amateur DIY technicians despite a lack of formalised training, research finds.

Although a quarter of staff will report issues to the IT person, 62 per cent roll up their sleeves and get stuck in themselves when faced with a tech challenge, according to a study by TalkTalk Business.

However, only  9 per cent of workers in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) rate themselves as ‘tech heroes’ leading to an average of two hours of downtime for every employee per week.

The research, which reveals the extent of UK business’ tech skills gap and its impact on small businesses, suggests SMEs that give more priority to IT training will gain the equivalent of one extra member of staff for every 20 employees.

Additionally, more than two thirds of respondents believe tech-smart staff are valued more highly by senior management and fellow colleagues alike.

Almost 60 per cent believe say that better IT skills would make them more efficient personally, as well as increasing peer respect and career opportunities.

Charles Bligh, managing director of TalkTalk Business says, ‘Few companies deny that having the right IT systems and technical know-how within their team plays an essential part in their growth, but addressing the skills gap effectively is the key to unlocking any investment in technology.’

Office workers admit that it’s not just specialist software that causes trouble; 47 per cent say hardware issues are ‘very challenging’, and 9 per cent of respondents even say they struggle with commonplace software such as spreadsheet packages.

Although 36 per cent say they feel personally responsible for ensuring they are technically proficient, the majority (51 per cent) say the responsibility for IT training lies with their employer.

A third of temporary staff claim to have all the skills they could need, twice the number of those in lower level management positions.

More than two thirds of people working for SMEs believe tech-smart staff are valued more highly by senior management and fellow colleagues.

Bligh adds, ‘Businesses that are able to invest in reducing the skills gap will clearly be able to benefit from improved efficiencies and productivity, as well as the positive and engaged attitude staff have to technology in the workplace.’

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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