Fixing The Digital Skills Gap

We’re in a period where we are seeing technology constantly evolve and present new and innovative methods of working to the existing workforce. As well as technology, organisations and employees are evaluating the different day-to-day working solutions to ensure a successful way of working. 

The Covid-19 pandemic only highlighted the digital skills gap which currently exists in the UK; as businesses and employees were forced to adopt a different way of working for a year, following government restrictions. 

According to a report released by FutureDotNow, over 17 million people in the UK lack essential digital skills; and less than a quarter of employees reporting they have not had any digital training from their employer. 

We’ve seen the impact a cyber breach can cause to a business, and the rate of cyberattacks and fraudulent emails has increased over the past year. However, being able to identify a suspicious email, basic password security practice, using cloud storage and analysing data are amongst the skills UK employees lack. 

A report by Oxford Economics, has predicted that 75% of jobs will require ‘advanced digital skills’ by 2030. 

The digital evolution is bringing new tools and practices to the workplace, employees are being encouraged to learn multiple skillsets in order to contribute to other areas of the business if required. 

Spot the gaps

A good first step towards tackling the digital skills gap within an organisation, is to firstly identify the gaps. Identifying the gaps will help employers identify their employees current capabilities; should they not know already. By having regular one-to-one open discussions with the workforce, this will help in keeping track with any issues employees may have and how they can do their job more proficiently. 

Different organisations have different objectives; and these may influence the introduction of digital tools. If organisations are introducing new digital tools to their workforce, upskilling employees will be necessary. 

Supporting the existing workforce 

Once organisations have identified the gaps, they can begin the process of resolving them. One way of overcoming the hurdles of the skills gap is to upskill current working staff with on the job training. This can be a timely and costly process for businesses. We are seeing temporary contractors being recruited as a solution to closing the gap. Contractors are able to come in and fill in the gaps, whist organisations support their team. Contractors can also be valuable in a sense that they can also pass on their knowledge to the team; closing the skills gap as a result. 

Adopt ‘everyday’ digital capabilities 

Employees may have digital skills without being aware of it. It may be a case of adopting everyday digital skills in the workplace as part of upskilling employees. For example, employees in their spare time may write blogs, be active on mobile applications or spend their time on various digital technologies. Their knowledge could then be passed onto colleagues. 

Employees must be in the right mindset 

In order for the upskilling of employees to be successful, the workforce must be open to embracing change and a new way of working. By maintaining a positive working culture, the task of integrating new technologies to a workforce becomes easier. Employees can adapt to change and embrace digital change will find it easier to find opportunities which match their skillsets. 

Rather than forcing change or new ways of working upon the workforce, communication as to how their job is changing and why their skills need to develop, will see the upskilling drive successful. 

A business leaders responsibility is to empower their workers and make them feel valued. Employees that understand where they fit in the digital adoption, will be motivated to do their best on a day-to-day basis. 

Regular reviews 

Introducing new technology isn’t always guaranteed to be a success; discussing how employees feel about the change and they are coping with it. Regular reviews on the continuing change and skill gaps is necessary, maintaining your employees skills is necessary.  

The need for digital skills in the future will only look to increase; as elements and automation play a part in the future workplace, being prepared to constantly monitor and close new gaps will leave an organisation in good stead in the long run. 

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