What businesses need to do to close the digital skills gap

Skilled coders and developers are in short supply, but remain in high demand amongst the financial and data services industries. Companies that aren’t engaging in digital skills training aren’t only preventing their employees from developing but hampering the digital transformation of their business.

A recent survey undertaken by CapGemini and LinkedIn highlighted the problems that employees face and how far their employers need to go in order to reduce the digital skills gap. It’s important for businesses to adopt a new strategy to create an equal workforce, whilst also attracting young talent to take up coding and developing. There is a myriad of ways to achieve this in the modern workforce.

Respond to change

The first step is understanding that technology is moving forward at lightning speed and that it’s not enough to rely on old and outdated practices. 29% of employees believe that their skills are already redundant or will be in the next 1-2 years. Therefore, it is vital to create an open and progressive environment and welcome new technologies into the workforce. This, in turn, will create a workforce that will work together to bridge the digital skills gap.

Inspire and educate

Indeed, education and training are a necessity for businesses to succeed in a modern world, however, companies should still avoid making this a dull activity. 42% of employees have described their organisation’s training as ‘useless and boring’ and in reaction to the poor training, 52% would prefer to learn through an online course.

It’s important to understand different employees’ needs when setting up training. A one size fits all approach doesn’t always work to maximum effect, so talk to your staff and understand their work balance and preferences to ensure that your staff welcome and engage with your training.

Encourage and fund staff to take up courses and classes to learn new skills

Outside of work, there are a variety of initiatives created to inspire the younger generation to learn much-needed digital skills. This year, the Chancellor has proposed to invest £84 million to upskill 8,000 secondary school computer science teachers by the end of this parliament.

It’s important for students to be taught technologies early in order to seamlessly move harmoniously together with developments of technologies. This should further incentivise businesses to provide training for staff as soon enough, employers will be out-skilled by the younger generation. Encourage staff to find courses they want to partake in, bring in trainers to the office for a staff training day; these are all simple ways to make sure that upskilling is a hot topic of conversation.

Funding is one of the biggest drawbacks for staff not to take part in training schemes, so put aside some budget. It’s an investment, preventing funding being spent on the search for new staff, as well as increasing company morale.

Maximise employee’s networks when recruiting

If you want the best people to work for your company, you need to invest in the best staff. The most effective way to achieve this is to take advantage of your existing staff. Word of mouth is incredibly valuable for the success of a company, and the best advert for your company is what your staff say. Providing incentives to encourage your staff to spread the word is a great way of achieving this but more importantly, you need to invest in your current staff training to ensure a good word is spread.

55% of job seekers would move to another job if they feel their current employer is not fulfilling their desire to keep their digital skills current – make sure you are the company they move to.

Ultimately, there is a huge role for businesses to play in bridging the digital skills gap. Once you take the first step in understanding that you need to move with technology, not against it, or trail after it, your staff will take notice. Ensure to inspire and educate your workforce by presenting a variety of training courses and motivate your staff to create awareness of your programs to widen your networks.

From this, your company will make a strong digital mark and strengthen the UK’s reputation as a global technology leader.

Jamie Hutton, Quantexa

January 31, 2018

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