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Editorial & Analyses

How To Fix Shortage Of Talent And Expertise In Digital Skills

The Hawk
March11/ 2023

digital Skills

Vijay Garg

Organisations across the world are facing a shortage of professional talent and expertise in digital skills. For example, a 2021 survey suggested that 76% of IT decision makers worldwide faced critical skills gaps in their departments, an increase of 14.5% since 2016.

Previously, much of this gap has been filled by outsourcing. However, while outsourcing will always play a part in providing digital skills it is no longer the only answer. That’s because digital skills are now core to how every organisation operates. Competence in digital channels, and in creating and managing omnichannel customer journeys, are crucial for both B2B and B2C businesses.

Additionally, new disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and robotic process automation all require upgraded skills from staff. This means digital skills are now one of the key determinants of competitiveness, value creation and business resilience.

New options for filling the skills gap

Essentially there are four ways that companies can improve digital skills:

1.Recruitment: In terms of recruitment, the focus must be on making your company more attractive to the sort of people you want to recruit and retain. That means creating an environment and culture that is stimulating to data-focused employees, allowing them to work on key strategic challenges while keeping a certain level of freedom and independence. The balancing act for all employers is delivering this culture while ensuring added value for the company. 

2.Education and training: In the past, many big companies ran education programmes around skills transformation that involved sending large numbers of employees to central training centres. This broad-brush approach didn’t always deliver promised benefits – instead successful programmes now follow three key criteria:

a) Segmented: Rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach, education and training should be focused on the user and their needs. Some employees will need to become power users, and some much less so.

b) Specific: Digital topics can be broad and fast-changing. That is why, rather than simply educating about technology, companies are looking to develop their people’s technology quotient (TQ). Analogous with intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ), TQ measures the ability of an individual to assimilate technology changes by learning to successfully include technology in their work and life. A high TQ implies the right attitude, capabilities, and decision-making strategies to fully leverage technology.

c) Immersive. This is important because digital can only be learnt hands-on. While in the past this meant sitting in front of a computer, today new techniques have evolved, enabled by gamification. For example, some companies are providing their people with a virtual reality headset and access to the metaverse to attend virtual classrooms as part of their education.

3.Reduce the need for complex digital skills: Companies must focus more on ensuring that their IT doesn’t require unnecessary amount of digital skills. Simplicity must be prioritised when making decisions about which technology to adopt. For example, companies can pick standardised solutions or no code platforms to remove the need for specialist skills, bringing down costs and enabling employees to focus on more value-added activities.

Create smart partnerships: Accessing some, extremely specific skills will require external support. But rather than traditional outsourcers, organisations should embrace new types of partnerships with startups and hyper scalers to deliver the knowledge and skills transfer they need. Companies can address the digital skills shortage by taking a fresh look at their strategies. They need to focus on better accessing and retaining resources and improving education, all while managing the digital estate to reduce skills demand.

—The Hawk Features