Report shows half of West Midlands SMEs lack basic digital skills

The latest Lloyds Bank Business and Charity Index has revealed that over half of West Midlands SME organisations lack the basic digital skills that could drive growth.

The report said that by 'embracing digital skills', UK businesses could generate an additional £85 billion in turnover. Yet only 16 per cent of West Midlands businesses are gaining a transactional benefit from trading online, significantly below the UK average of 23 per cent.

This figure falls further when it comes to targeting international markets, with just six per cent of West Midlands businesses using online channels to trade overseas. The report also found that only two per cent use digital channels to search and discover growth opportunities for their business.

For those businesses embracing advanced technologies including cloud IT, online accounting software and digital training tools there is the opportunity to generate more than £100,000 in extra annual turnover compared to those who have none. The benefits can go beyond finances too, with 2.5m businesses saving time through digital, more than twice as many compared to 2014. Small businesses and charities with advanced digital capabilities are able to save a day a week according to the report. Martin Dodd, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for the Midlands, said:

“We have a really advanced technology sector here in the West Midlands, contributing £5.4 billion to the local economy, yet many of our SME businesses and charities are lacking the basic digital skills that could help them to grow.

“We know from our work with local businesses that having a strong online presence can attract business both in the UK and internationally, so it’s disappointing that just 16 per cent and six per cent respectively of SME organisations are using their digital channels in this way.

“With almost 3,000 specially trained digital champions in the Midlands, we are helping the region’s businesses and charities develop their skills to facilitate growth, as part of our Helping Britain Prosper plan. Over the coming 12 months we will continue to provide free to access training events for SMEs to help them close the digital skills gap.”


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