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Tackling the digital skills gap head on takes more than a growth mindset and flexible thinking if businesses want to transform their workforce
The digital skills crisis and Great Resignation are forcing the employment landscape to evolve for a post-pandemic era. The race for digital transformation across all industries shows that the demand for digitally-skilled labour has never been higher, with a predicted 75 per cent of jobs requiring advanced digital skills by 2030. On top of this, the Great Resignation has snatched 4.5 million people off the UK job market since November. Businesses now face the challenge of attracting and retaining employees against this tumultuous backdrop. One thing is certain, the competition for the right talent has never been fiercer.
However, amid this increased precarity, it’s becoming clear that accelerated digital transformation is shaping a new era of talent who are flexible, adaptable and committed to their own growth. Businesses need to prioritise developing and nurturing these individuals, along with the hard skills needed for businesses to thrive in this new post-pandemic digital landscape.
So how can business leaders recognise these specific competencies and attributes within their organisation, and how do they cultivate this type of ability in their employees?
Digital transformation and the fight for new talent
To say the pandemic has influenced the labour market would be a gross understatement: the pandemic wrought a digital-first world geared to be run by digital-natives. As such, the marriage between digital skills and talent retention should not be ignored by employers.
Digital transformation has created a vast new world of opportunities requiring specific skills in many areas, including cloud, data, cybersecurity, software, hardware, to name but a few. We are in a situation now where these new digital roles aren’t being filled at the same rate they are emerging – thus causing the digital skills crisis we are faced with today. Additionally, the disparity between business leaders and IT leaders over understanding digital priorities within an organisation is increasing.
Successful digital transformation demands a change in business mindset, which requires diversity of thought. We are now in an era where further issues such as ESG, improving social mobility in industries, and diversity and inclusion continue to be at the forefront of the business agenda, and rightly so. These are spearheaded by young and ambitious talent who are passionate about making the world a better place through their career and are driving transformation at scale.
Now more than ever, employers must look to drive impactful change through attraction and retention. More needs to be done to nurture this new era of talent.
Combining hard skills and soft skills
As the digital skills gap widens, this attitude towards learning has never been more important. With the current half-life of technical skills standing at just two and a half years, employees should look to upskill themselves to stay employable. A key feature of this new era of talent is their drive and hunger to continuously learn, whether it be through online webinars or paid professional courses. They have a growth mindset, recognising the value of keeping their mind agile to maintain a competitive edge in today’s labour market.
This increasingly uncertain job market is causing business leaders everywhere to awake from their slumber and acknowledge that hard skills are not the whole answer to the skills gap. A balance must be struck between developing young professionals’ technical skills along with increasing the soft skills and competencies required to challenge and bring innovation into the workplace. Skills such as communication, empathy, curiosity, and collaboration are becoming important traits to nurture alongside hard technical skills.
Those that show an appetite for continuous learning and self-development increase their chances of employability. More importantly, they will help organisations innovate and be at the forefront of the digital transformation race. Any robust hiring process should consider hiring for competencies and attributes that demonstrate flexibility and adaptability.
Nurturing the new era of talent
It’s important that organisations now build themselves around the cognitive potential of their people, including the acknowledgement that creativity, collaboration, and interaction all optimise workplace conditions to maximise cognitive flow. With the added pandemic-related pressures feeding into the ’Great Resignation’, it is no surprise that business leaders are looking to invest in how best to nurture their people to help retain current employees and attract new talent.
As continuous learning is a key attribute in remaining employable in the digital skills landscape, businesses should introduce a model of learning that is ongoing and flexible. Training should become embedded into employees’ roles by championing small, frequent learning interventions – or microlearning – delivered in digestible pieces. Not only can this bite-sized information be processed quickly, but it boosts memory retention rates above 90 per cent.
This learning method promotes wellbeing and diversity within organisations as it is more inclusive for all employees. It also removes some of the added pressures that come with learning in a classroom-style environment and is more interactive in approach. It is easier to deliver in a hybrid or virtual working environment, making it perfect for the new age of business.
Redefining talent management for the future
Talent management has undergone more transformations in the last 12 months than it has seen in the last decade. The rise of individualist-driven generations such as Millennials and Generation Z in the workplace has put unprecedented pressure on business leaders to perceive their employees less as cogs in the machine and unlock their individual skills and capabilities.
Recognising how to create fertile ground within your workplace that nourishes this new era of talent provides HR with a unique opportunity to future gaze and hire employees for their potential or capabilities rather than the skills they can demonstrate at the time of their job offer.
As digital services and technologies continue to evolve, businesses need to hire bright young minds who are willing and ready to adapt their skillset. Harnessing this diverse talent will be absolutely vital if we’re to maintain the furious pace of digital change and retain our position as a leading tech nation.
Grayce is an emerging talent management consultancy. Since 2012, it has worked with businesses to place thousands of skilled graduate professionals with them, as demand for skilled professionals in change, data and tech continues to grow. The consultancy works with businesses to rethink their talent strategy, build long-term skills capabilities and deliver digital transformation and change.
Its Change+, Data+ and Tech+ Development Programmes are designed to equip graduates with the skills they need both now and for the future and to provide businesses with access to the very best, diverse talent for their assignments.
In this year’s FT 1000: Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies, Grayce ranked 855th, making it the 8th fastest growing Management Consultancy in the UK.
For more information visit www.grayce.co.uk.
Originally published on Business Reporter