Why Yorkshire firms are missing 'huge opportunity' to invest in digital skills

Businesses in Yorkshire have stepped up their protection against cyber threats in 2019, but a lack of interest in other digital tactics could be holding them back, according to Lloyds Bank’s latest Business Digital Index (BDI).

Russell Galley

The annual report, the largest of its kind into digital skills, polled 1,500 small businesses across the UK, with 140 from Yorkshire and the Humber. The report combines survey data with businesses’ transactional data.

The security index for the region, which outlines whether firms are protecting themselves against hackers and fraudsters, has shot up by 14 points on last year to 54. An index reading of zero indicates a lack of online cybersecurity capabilities while a reading of 100 shows robust defensive measures are in place.

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The figures also showed that three quarters (75 per cent) of firms in the region had already invested in their cyber security skills or had plans to in future, compared with 78 per cent nationally.

But despite these advances in cyber security, a lack of digital skills could be hampering opportunities to boost sales or productivity.

Russell Galley, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “While it’s encouraging to see many firms adopting digital skills and looking for ways to improve their cyber knowledge, many are missing out on a huge opportunity by not actively growing their wider digital skills.

“Our research found that an average small business in the UK, with strong digital skills and behaviours, earned around £260,000 more a year. This is money that could be spent on hiring more staff, training employees and growing the business.

“The region is undergoing a digital transformation, with Hull set to become the first place in the UK to have full fibre broadband coverage, so it’s essential that firms in the region take full advantage of the boost to business that digital skills could bring.”

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