Excessive focus on equipping team members for technical jobs is undermining the digital well-being of UK firms.

That’s according to a report conducted by The Candidate which found that 57 per cent of managers consider the industry is suffering due to too much focus on hard skills, while not enough is being done to improve literacy in the computerised domain.

The research also discovered that 69 per cent of digital managers feel soft skills are overlooked compared to the hard skills that are required for technical roles. A quarter of participants felt that emphasis on training for technical roles was having a negative effect on the digital industry as a whole.

The findings are all the more remarkable seeing as just 27 per cent of managers considered technical abilities to feature among the top three qualities that a good leader should possess. Communication was valued as most important, with 65 per cent of managers ranking this in their top three most important qualities, suggesting that soft skills are valued more highly.

In addition, 19 per cent of managers felt that the pace of the industry was making it difficult to keep up with the necessary skills needed for the role. As a result, nearly half lacked confidence in their own skills, rating them just ‘average’ or below.

Brian Matthews, managing partner of The Candidate, said:

“It can’t be stressed enough the importance of quality managers in the digital sector, as it battles against a skills shortage that is preventing its expected growth. It’s great for emerging talent to have technical abilities, but it’s important not to overlook soft skills, too.

“It’s not particularly surprising that nearly a fifth of managers find that the pace of the industry makes it difficult to keep up with important skills. As the sector is constantly evolving and new skills are needed, there is a struggle of balancing training for both hard and soft skills. And it would seem that the latter is being neglected and this could be having a negative impact,” he continued.

“Attitudes need changing within the industry so that we nurture the managerial talent that we have, in order to pass on important soft and hard skills. Otherwise, there is a risk of being left with an unbalanced and unhappy workforce that don’t have all of the skills required to keep digital businesses growing,” Mr Matthews added.

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