Tony Lysak: Closing The Digital Skills Gap Through Enablement and Collaboration

The digital skills gap has been recognised as a challenge for decades. Yet, despite the efforts of successive governments and private organisations to train the workforce, the rift between supply and demand for technical proficiency in the economy is growing. This is being fueled by the mass corporate adoption of technology by large firms. Businesses want to take advantage of the efficiencies on offer through existing tech solutions, investing in Amazon Web Services, middleware and other software that drastically enhances company competitive advantage and performance.

However, the functionality gains on offer are of little value if they aren’t developed and deployed by a skilled team. At the moment, 9 in 10 organisations admit to having a digital skills shortage. This is a concerning statistic that highlights the extent of the problem. With the World Economic Forum estimating that emerging technologies will generate 133 million new jobs by 2022, we urgently need to find a sustainable solution to bridge the skills gap.

This might seem like a dramatic outlook, but we cannot understate the structural challenges the digital skills gap poses. Should effective action not be taken soon, the UK economy could find itself in a precarious position, marred by a workforce that is simply not equipped to use the latest digital tools.

Enabling a new generation of digital professionals

To overcome the digital skills gap, there needs to be an increase in the number of technically proficient workers in the UK. Simply put, increasing supply will alleviate demand. The theoretical solution may seem obvious, but as is to be expected, the challenge is putting this theory into action.

A change of thinking is required. When it comes to tackling the lack of digital skills in the UK, the current strategy focuses on the recruitment, training, and then deployment of tech professionals. These elements all play an important part in overcoming the current gap. However, there is a missing piece to the puzzle which needs to be embedded into the current strategy. To truly address the scarcity of specialist tech skills, we must focus on enablement.

Enablement offers direction and purpose, ensuring that efforts to train a workforce are coordinated with a clear set of objectives and plan of action. At the same time, enablement gives workers the ability to feedback on the own obstacles they face and better understand what skills need to be improved. Enablement offers an organic and agile upskilling of the workforce.

The problem at the moment is that there is not enough integration between educational institutions and companies to ensure enablement can be achieved. Without a structure in place, enablement is not attainable.


Encouraging collaboration

The Software Institute sees many able and highly intelligent graduates exiting university every year without the vital technical skill sets needed for employment in today’s business landscape. There is a visible chasm between these traditional educational institutions and the corporate world’s needs. Currently, university curriculums simply aren’t updating and specialising at rates that are fast enough to close this disparity. This means that those hoping to secure employment in the global software industry must seek extra training to develop these specialist digital skills.

Today, around 1 million digital experts are missing and a staggering 35% of workers do not have basic digital skills. These statistics pose a significant barrier for businesses. If we are to bridge this gap between traditional education and the global software industry, companies must prioritise budgeting for consistent training, reskilling, and upskilling of employees.

What’s needed is a suite of programmes incorporating the best features from specialist consultancies, academies, and new delivery models. This collaborative approach will enable businesses to build a long term and sustainable talent pipeline by identifying the best local talent, in any requested geography and delivering immersive accredited educational courses with the best of breed technologies.

Importantly, while there is a dearth of digital skills at the moment, there is by no means a shortage of digital talent. What is needed is a rethink of the current training processes in place so that the principle enablement becomes a core part of our efforts to address the digital skills gap. Out of the box thinking, backed by a willingness to overhaul outdated learning structures is evidently warranted.
Written by, CEO at The Software Institute – A company that provides multilingual Global Technology Programmes, which results in multi-disciplined diplomas that fast-track entry to IT roles. For businesses, the Software Institute provides Global Workforce Management & Transformation services underpinned with the SkillsNow Workforce Management Platform and specialist delivery partners.

Tony Lysak