• Economic modelling from Centre for Economic and Business Research reveals there is a tangible and near-term opportunity in a more inclusive, digital economy
  • Digital skills present the single biggest lever to help 1.7 million people find jobs every year; upskilling of the workforce to add £45.3 billion to the economy
  • Industrial impact of digitisation would boost potential of key regions; over 80% of digital opportunity outside of London
  • Study coincides with 25th anniversary of Cisco Networking Academy, the world’s largest digital skills to jobs programme

As the UK economy is challenged with opportunity for growth, both for organisations and individuals, new economic modelling from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), commissioned by Cisco, reveals that a more inclusive digital society could add £168 billion to the economy by 2030. Over 80% of this growth (£138 billion) is set to come from outside of London, creating a tangible and near-term opportunity for the nation.

The study, conducted by the CEBR for Cisco, reveals there are three key ways in which the UK can readily take action: by connecting everyone to high-quality broadband, widening access to digital skills, and boosting productivity and inclusion by digitising key industries and public services.

The top regions outside of London that would benefit from greater digital inclusion are the Southeast (£22.7 billion), followed by West Midlands (£18.4 billion), Northwest (£17.7 billion) and East England (£13.9 billion).

David Meads, Chief Executive, Cisco UK & Ireland: “We have an opportunity as a nation, and a responsibility as an industry, to make sure that everyone has access to the digital economy. Whether for the benefit of individuals, regions or industries, there are tangible, near-term opportunities between now and 2030 to create a more inclusive, digital economy. To overlook the impact of digital today, would directly impact the role it could play in helping 1.7 million people a year into the workforce, or to improve the productivity of the UK’s industry”

CEBR spokesperson: “Our analysis shows that increased digital inclusion clearly has the potential to enhance the economic outcomes of individuals, industry and the government. It will be important for all sections of society to work together to bring these potential benefits to fruition.”

Greater access to digital skills would help millions increase earnings and boost employability

The CEBR report explores digital skills across three key levels of Essential Digital Skills (EDS)*. These are foundational skills (being able to access the internet), EDS for life (being able to transact, purchase, engage online) and EDS for work (being able to use basic business digital apps).

By enabling more people with greater access to online services such as digital banking, ecommerce and online GP appointments, widening access to foundational digital skills and digital skills for life can, according to the data, add almost £14 billion to the UK economy in the next eight years (£13.86 billion).

“The single biggest lever we have to boost productivity and earning power in the UK today is how we build on the digital skills of the nation. As the data shows, a more inclusive approach to the use of technology, recruitment and development of talent from all corners of the UK creates opportunity for the economy as a whole.” added Meads. “We must consider how we address not only the digital skills gap, but the varying level of skills required in today’s society so that everyone can benefit from the many educational, professional and financial opportunities a more digital society can offer.”

The opportunity in digital skills is not confined to the technology sector

The data also revealed that with guidance and training, 1.7 million people a year across the UK are likely to gain the digital skills needed for work in our modern economy, with many likely to gain employment as a result. To add context, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, 1.7 million people across the country are not yet active in the labour market but want to work, presenting a real opportunity for this untapped talent. Digital skills alone could add £2.1 billion to the UK economy by increasing the number of people who are employed as a direct result of digital training.

In addition to this, gaining digital skills for work could result in a 7.7% increase in earnings for those already employed but previously lacking digital skills. This would add almost £17 billion to the UK economy by 2030 (£16.8 billion), with most of this growth (£13.9 billion) expected to come from outside of London.

Providing opportunities for digital upskilling is a strategic priority for Cisco. In 2021, the Cisco Networking Academy launched ‘Skills for All’, a platform that provides free, self-paced, mobile-first courses for anyone looking to improve their digital skills for work.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Cisco Networking Academy, which is the world’s longest running learning and digital skills development programme of its kind. Since its launch, 17.5 million global learners have trusted the Cisco Networking Academy for skills-to jobs curriculum and connections with an educational pathway to meaningful work. Globally the programme now comprises of 11,800 educational institutions and 29,300 instructors. In the UK it has created over 300 academies throughout the UK and trained over 350,000 people. 95% of these students have either gone onto employment or further education.

Digitisation will lead to major financial boost for key industries

According to the data, wider digital adoption in key industries such as utilities, transport, retail, hospitality, and construction could generate £132 billion in productivity gains for the UK economy by 2030. This growth would come from greater connectivity (£45 billion), easier access to talent with digital skills (£23 billion) and the wider adoption of digital technology (£64 billion).

The industrial impact of digitisation would boost the levelling up potential of key regions outside of London, with the most significant growth expected to come from the Southeast and the Northwest, followed by East of England, the West Midlands and Scotland.

Cisco and digital inclusion:

For over 30 years, Cisco have been at the heart of digital in the UK and Ireland. Today, nearly every internet connection in the UK touches its technology and through the Cisco Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Programme, which is a long-term partnership with governments, industry and academia, the organisation has committed to helping to create more inclusive opportunity across industry, regions and communities.

Cisco and regional opportunity:

  • As an example of a region embracing the opportunity in a more inclusive digital society, Cisco has today announced a strategic partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to further its vision of becoming a world-leading digital city region. With Cisco and a consortium of partners, GMCA will enable the transformation of public services, underpinned by a programme of social value initiatives to support digital inclusion, drive entrepreneurship, create better outcomes and address the digital divide across the region. Read more here.

Cisco and digital skills:

  • On any given day, there are at least 3 million participants enrolled in a Cisco Networking Academy programme across 180 countries around the world. It provides new opportunity for some of the world’s most vulnerable and underserved communities, while also contributing directly to addressing the global skills crisis. 95% of students say the Cisco Networking Academy helped them obtain a job or educational opportunity**. To mark the 25th anniversary of Cisco Networking Academy, Cisco has committed to training 25 million new learners in the next 10 years. In addition, it will partner with Manpower Group to help place certified graduates into new cybersecurity and IT roles across its global database.

Cisco and industry digitisation:

  • Cisco recently announced the expansion of its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme, which has formed the core of Cisco’s decade long investment in UK innovation. Through investment in partnerships, projects and initiatives in industries and public services best positioned to benefit from digital acceleration, the programme is aligned to both the national and regional ambitions of the UK, to support on key issues such as digital skills, productivity, the future of health, sustainability and the UK’s levelling up agenda.


 View the infographic here

*EDS classification is based on the Lloyds Framework and the Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index: https://www.lloydsbank.com/banking-with-us/whats-happening/consumer-digital-index/essential-digital-skills.html

**Based on student outcome surveys of student participants who took Cisco certification aligned courses between fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2022.