Today’s increasingly digital workplace is keeping employers and employees on their toes, writes Graham Hunter. New technologies that can improve productivity and replace repetitive or menial tasks are being brought into every sector, disrupting the day-to-day processes. However, organisations are still yet to catch up with the rate of change and ensure employees are capable of working with the technologies now being introduced.
While it isn’t a new concept that training – and especially IT training – is necessary to develop workplace skills, it’s staggering that there’s still such a wide skills gap. CompTIA’s recent report entitled ‘Assessing the IT Skills Gap in the UK’ found that 50% of large companies and 44% of smaller businesses identified a digital skills gap. In addition to this, the Centre for Economics and Business Research also reported that 12% of the UK’s population lack the digital skills needed in this decade of rapid technological adoption.
With statistics like this, it’s clear that there’s huge value in workforce training.
However, it’s not just initial training that’s important when taking a new job. At the current rate of change, newly-learned digital skills could be out of date within a matter of a few years. In addition to this, as the crossover between job roles and functions increases, additional skills gap challenges will arise.
For example, a Human Resources manager dealing with CVs on a day-to-day basis will need to deal with the new General Data Protection Regulation issues around data protection. This is something that traditionally came under the jurisdiction of the IT Department. Therefore, continuous learning processes are a ‘must’ in order to help employees keep pace with the rate of technological adoption.
Encouraging a culture of sustained learning has numerous benefits, not just for employees, but also for employers.
Ongoing training is one of the most effective ways of increasing productivity. CompTIA’s report found that the leading impact of the skills gap was identified as lower productivity (41%) as employees find it difficult to work with new technologies. Introducing training programmes that ensure employees are kept up-to-date with new and emerging technologies and how they can be implemented within the workplace ensures that those employees are confident in their use and adoption. This, in turn, ensures productivity levels are maintained as employees don’t spend valuable time finding ‘workarounds’ and elongating processes.
Showcasing talent investment
If they’re to be invested in their work and their company, employees need to feel like it’s a two-way relationship. Continual training and career growth opportunities are good ways of showing employees that their company is invested in them and ensuring they’re continuously motivated to do the job.
These opportunities are mutually beneficial since the training of employees helps to grow the company while giving employees the knowledge and skills to further develop their own careers.
CompTIA’s skills gap report also found that having employees with a lack of digital skills reduces the innovation levels within a company. Having ongoing training sessions that explore the capabilities of technologies, both from an IT perspective and as a wider organisation, ensures that employees are creatively motivated to develop processes and introduce ways of using technologies in the day-to-day environment.
While it may not have a huge impact on a business’ bottom line, having a better understanding of emerging technologies and the ways in which they can be implemented within the workplace does improve innovation.
Value of certifications
The lack of digital skills within the workplace isn’t something that can be transformed overnight. Organisations need to invest in the right training and understand the overall RoI that comes with quality continual education.
Businesses should look to engage with training that’s benchmarked against industry standards to ensure employees are receiving education that’s as relevant to today’s technological advancements as possible.
Vendor-neutral certifications encompass a variety of factors to assure that each and every employee gains the skills needed to be put into use within the business. If employees are trained to standards that are widely accepted by the industry, employers can be sure that their teams have the skills needed to make an immediate impact when new technologies are introduced.
Having a strategy in place that ensures employees are updating their certifications regularly will mean that organisations are not left behind by the rate of change. Some certifications are currently updated every three years, but in response to the current rate of change, that frequency is expected to increase to an annual refresh such that employees can receive more regular training on the new innovations and developments within the industry.
At a time when businesses need to be adapting to digital transformation across all job roles, it’s vital that the skills learned by employees are relevant to today’s technological innovations. It’s fair to say that it’s only by investing in industry-relevant, in-demand digital skills that businesses will be able to future-proof the workforce and ensure productivity and innovation are at their optimal levels.
Graham Hunter is Vice-President of Skills Certifications at CompTIA