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Leadership / Workforce

The Skills Gap is Real: How to Inspire Digital Literacy in an Organisation

In today’s business world, digitalisation is commonplace; so is the resulting skills gap. Many organisations are struggling with effective, efficient digital adoption because they expect employees to adapt to these technical changes on their own.

Whether we’re talking about building spreadsheets on Excel, using Slack or leveraging a proprietary tool, employers cannot assume that the understanding of these applications or the development of the necessary skills are soley the responsibility of the employee.

The responsibility falls to the employer to provide adequate training and resources for tools they expect their employees to use; with assessment and accountability built into this training so that employers can quantify results and identify areas for improvement.

However, it is not as simple as offering one-off digital skills training courses or developing an open-ended mandate that all employees must understand and use the tools available to them. Instead, organisations must implement holistic, strategic training processes that cater to all types of employees and their various learning methods, and they must track the success of these programmes.

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Reality of the Issue

The reality, however, is that companies still have a long way to go to fill the skills gap.

Joint research from Fosway Group, Skillsoft and SumTotal has found just 11 percent of organisations have all the digital skills required to succeed; and more than half have none or only some of the necessary skills.

Similarly, Accenture released a report showing that, this year, 78 percent of business leaders expected their organisations to be digital; yet only 49 percent of them said they had a strategy for the management and development of the skills needed for that digital world.

Rather than preparing and training for this evolving digital landscape, companies simply adopt the latest technologies and then struggle as employees fail to use them.  It’s not enough to react to training needs.

Employers must be consistent, prepare for what’s to come, and encourage ongoing training.  This is a transformation, so it’s important for companies to think about digital skills as a never-ending, evolving progression for the workforce.

How can Business Leaders Adopt New Training Programmes, Aligning with Business Objectives?

Business must begin with an objective assessment by reviewing the status of the organisation’s current digital skills capabilities and its greatest needs.

From there, leaders should then consider the company’s goals and the types of digital skills that will help employees deliver on those initiatives. Furthermore, another consideration is what tools the workforce needs to master to conquer day-to-day responsibilities, thereby driving toward the overall company vision.  Aligning all of these different factors will help ensure that the digital skills offered will benefit both the business and the employees.

Once effort has been made to understand the workforce’s digital literacy, organisations must consider the digital health of the business.

In other words, is the company using the most up-to-date resources and are these tools the best options for the organisation? Choosing the right digital technologies to enable employees has a direct impact on productivity and the ability to make advances in an organisation’s respective industries.

After recognising the importance of digital skills, evaluating the company’s current skillset and identifying the needs required to meet overall business objectives, management can begin to make a plan to ensure that existing skills gaps are filled.

As leaders consider what these training programmes look like, here are three keys to success:

ADOPTION VS. USAGE:  

Adoption of enterprise digital tools often doesn’t live up to expectations because leadership doesn’t do the work necessary to change the culture surrounding the use of these tools.  For example, when work processes are not updated and top-down support for these technologies isn’t apparent, usage of the tools organisations have taken great pains to adopt doesn’t happen.  Adoption without usage causes plans to collapse and fall apart. In the strategy, have a clear implementation and assessment process to help ensure that the plan is executed.

SUSTAINABLE VS. IMMEDIATE:

Digital technology doesn’t result in instant change.  Developing digital skills helps yield more productive and savvy employees which, in time, improves the overall business.  Technology also never stops evolving, so strategies around filling specific digital gaps needs to be assessed periodically.  Leaders must keep an eye on trends and upcoming industry predictions to ensure they’re one step ahead of evolving training needs. Some digital skills are, by nature, temporary and will need remediation.

TAKE ON LESS VS. MORE:

There are infinite possibilities with digital technology these days but sometimes less is actually more.  Focus on initiatives that can be easily adopted and will create real value for the business.  This also loops back to adoption versus usage.  If an organisation deploys too many tactics, usage for all becomes challenging.

Organisations that value digital literacy and training will become leaders in their respective industries.  They’ll be more productive and attract the best talent, and they’ll ensure that their global teams are in sync.

Deploying digital skills training is no easy feat, but those who acknowledge the current skills gap and get out ahead of today’s technical trends will be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

Start today by asking; are we transforming our industry, or is the technology transformation holding us back?
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