In my last blog, ‘Are you caught in the Digital Skills Gap?’, I talked about the global shortage of skills impacting businesses large or small. Here I share how I think businesses can survive the digital skills gap crisis.

Experience

We have been through times like this before and I see similar patterns emerging.

The UK government recognises that businesses need to adapt to remain competitive. They are driving lots of initiatives at the grassroots level – in education, training, mobility, business incentives, etc. This will help in the long term, but it doesn’t resolve the immediate issues.

Specialisation

I think we will see more and more experienced talent moving out of mainstream organisations into consulting. We will also see further specialisation in areas of data analysis, customer experience, AI, etc.

This will make it even more difficult for organisations to acquire this talent. They will have no option but to bring in the experience they need at specific stages, to boost or augment their internal teams.

Survival plan

Here’s what I think companies should be doing to survive:

Be collaborative to say competitive and relevant

Organisations have already adapted to the concept of outsourcing through the evolution of managed IT services, SaaS-based systems, etc. Digital transformation is another function that is largely delivered by external suppliers.

So it’s not really about needing to prepare so much, but to realise that the skills are in short supply, probably for the foreseeable future. It’s in your companies interests to establish good working relationships with multiple suppliers in this space.

Unlock existing talent

Businesses need to support employees to transition into roles through incentivised training, which is lower risk and more cost-effective than hiring new staff.

You need to plan ahead, analyse the trends and prepare better in areas where skills are going to be in the shortest supply – AI, automation, Robotics, Cybersecurity, for example.

That being said, according to Dell Technologies’ ‘Realising 2030 Report’, 85% of jobs in 2030 have not been invented yet, so this will be quite difficult to get right!

Drive cultural change

The focus needs to be on preparing all employees – not just those currently specialising in IT – to work with new digital technologies.

People will constantly need to acquire new skills that enable new ways of working. This will include collaboration with intelligent systems and machines.

Being agile

‘Agility’ is a word that has become ubiquitous, but it is critical in the context of culture. All organisations need to learn how to change faster, and how to adapt to new ways of working quickly in order to remain competitive and relevant.

However, changing an organisation’s culture can be a lengthy and involved process. It starts by ensuring that leadership teams align and clearly articulate the way ahead. They will need to explore more creative styles of working, and ensure that they provide their employees with the tools they need to perform their tasks.

Upskilling

This also provides the opportunity to enhance existing skills by retraining and upskilling employees, enabling them to compete effectively in the ever-changing digital economy. Many employees will not make this transition independently. It’s down to leadership teams to prepare them for the new opportunities that digital transformation will create. As job roles become increasingly value-based, moving from simple task execution to process improvement, employees will need to upskill to use the automation that will augment their roles.

Collaboration

To stay relevant organisations must move to a collaborative working environment. One supplier will not be able to do everything. Try to find suppliers that have well-established ecosystems of partners and other complementary services.

 

Will Barribal
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