ServiceNow research: UK workforce agrees on mandatory digital education

A classroom of middle-school children listening intently to a male teacher, standing at the front of the class | ServiceNow digital education

New research from ServiceNow has found that 54 percent of UK office workers feel their formal education didn’t adequately prepare them for working life.

The research was collected from over 5,500 office workers across the EMEA region. Some of the findings of note were that 73 percent of UK workers agree that AI and coding should be mandatory in formal education. Moreover, a majority of 96 percent saw digital skills as a vital skill, even more so than sports (94 percent), languages (91 percent) and creative writing (87 percent).

The importance of tech skills when assessing new employment opportunities was also covered by the research, with 78 percent believing digital skills give people an edge in business and 65 percent feeling additional education would have helped them feel more confident about their career prospects.

Of that 65 percent, 76 percent were aged 18-34. Ultimately, almost three quarters of those surveyed believed there should be a standardized digital qualification so employers may recognize the right talent when recruiting.

Digital education seemed a difficult subject, with 46 percent of workers struggling to fit it around their current schedule. 37 percent admitted to being intimidated by the technology and actively avoiding it. Almost half, at 47 percent, were anxious that the fast pace of change means any new digital skills they learn will quickly become outdated.

On AI, the research delved into the general attitude towards its implementation. Just under half, at 44 percent, feel AI is the biggest opportunity for the future of the workforce and 49 percent see the software’s potential to boost productivity. Reflecting earlier insecurities about digital education, 41 percent admitted to lacking the abilities needed to work and use AI systems, with 47 percent not understanding how the technology can support their current role.

Those working in IT proved to be more confident with their skillset; 81 percent believed they have the skills to be successful. In addition, 71 percent said their employer has provided adequate technology training, compared to 58 percent from other UK industries. However, 57 percent of IT workers admitted to feeling intimidated by new tech, compared to 36 percent from other industries. 53 percent admitted they lack the technical capabilities to work alongside or use AI systems.

“Tech innovation is moving at an incredibly fast pace and as the business need increases, many of today’s workers are struggling to keep up,” said Cathy Mauzaize, president, EMEA at ServiceNow. “Unless we act now to both upskill current workers and train young people in using AI, the digital skills divide will continue to exponentially grow.

“Employees and employers alike know that AI offers so much potential to boost productivity and enhance working experiences and upskilling doesn’t have to be hard or inaccessible. ServiceNow’s RiseUp program is just one example of available skills training for people of all backgrounds to find opportunities in this fast-growing tech industry.”