One of the biggest challenges for many large enterprises at the moment is securing the right talent, particularly when it comes to digital skills. With fast networking connectivity and trends such as cyber security and big data dominating thinking in many companies, it is more important than ever for your business to make sure your workers are able to meet the new digital challenges.
Yet this is proving difficult for many companies. According to research by the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee, the UK will need an extra 745,000 workers with digital skills this year, and demand is far outstripping supply.
It's not just expertise such as advanced cyber security skills or programming that is lacking. Some 12 million adults lack even the most basic digital skills, and this gap costs the British economy around £63 billion a year in lost income.
So what can be done to address this? Here are five key areas to focus on to ensure your team is fully prepared for the digital future:
1. Boost your in-house training
If you can't find the skills you need in the jobs market, look inward. Setting up educational courses, training sessions and mentorship programmes can all help boost digital skills and benefit the company overall. It can also be much more cost-effective than competing for new talent, as skilled workers are able to command large premiums due to the lack of supply.
2. Promote continuous development
Don't assume just because staff have received training on a software application, they'll suddenly be able to make the best use of it. You need to continually assess your workforce's progress, holding regular meetings and performance reviews to make sure they’re using and honing their skills. You should also not assume that just because someone has the right qualifications, these will automatically translate to your precise workplace needs.
3. Collaborate with other organisations
The digital skills gap is a problem that affects every business, so it pays dividends to take a united approach to tackling it. Teaming up with other organisations can create wider-reaching, more effective training programmes that build a deeper talent pool. At the same time, companies can look to partner with local colleges and universities to offer more courses that lead to qualifications such as IT certificates.
4. Embrace digitisation
If your staff don’t feel that they really have to learn about new technology, they won't. By putting digitisation at the heart of your strategy you will quickly find you have a better-educated, more tech-savvy workforce. Figures from Gartner suggest efforts in this area are growing, with CIOs noting top performing businesses, that have digitisation is "fully baked" into their business models, are already spending 34 per cent of their IT budget on digital, with this forecast to increase to 44 per cent by 2018.
5. Encourage diversity
Figures from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and the Tech Partnership show that last year, just 17 per cent of IT professionals were female. Male-dominated workplaces aren't just bad for companies' CSR commitments, it means they're missing out on a huge range of skills. Broadening your workplace diversity will help deliver a broader range of workplace skills.
At TalkTalk Business we have invested into several digital skills training initiatives, partnering with industry leaders such as Decoded and Avado Learning. We also offer colleagues access to online learning from suppliers such as Lynda.com, GetAbstract and are encouraging all colleagues to share their knowledge on our internal system called Workday Learning.