The lack of skilled digital talent was evident before the pandemic. Looking back to 2017, data from McKinsey revealed that 87% of senior executives believed that their companies were not placing enough importance upon addressing the digital gap.

Looking more deeply, the digital skills gap appears to be as keenly felt by employees as well as senior managers.

A 2022 study conducted by Salesforce looked at the confidence of job seekers when it came to their digital skills.  This revealed that 73 % of respondents feel they don’t have the digital skills needed by businesses, and 76 % don’t feel ready for the future.

With this in mind, it’s interesting to consider what strategies organisations might want to take to offer a feeling of digital empowerment to their teams.

Of course, companies have several development strategies open to them. However, it’s evident that different tiers of digital professionals require very different approaches. What they need from digital training is very different.

Here are some ideas for approaching the digital readiness of three very different digital talent segments.

The digital and technology specialist.

These tech professionals are already experts.  As ‘Specialists’ they require developmental experiences, not just a helping hand on the career path.  Consider their requirements to be ‘technical development’ rather than career development.

The value an organisation can offer this group will lie in exposing them to emerging tech, new tools and progressive techniques.  This approach will support them twofold…they’ll be able to climb the technical ladder AND the career one.

‘Working level’ digital gaps.

This category refers to those who need a working level of digital and collaboration technologies in order to do their jobs. This group will have a varied level of confidence in their digital skills. Some may be fairly confident, and some not at all. Some may even feel they lack the ability to use the technologies required in the current climate.

For example, the same Salesforce study showed that only a third of respondents felt they had the social media skills needed for the workplace over the next five years.

Rather than struggling to find new hires amid a tight candidate market, organisations should look to bridge the gap through a rapid upskilling process.

A learning and development program that nurtures talent and prioritises digital skills acquisition, will not only help organisations retain existing employees but make them a more attractive proposition in such a tight market.

Digital skills in leaders.

Academic studies have shown that businesses with board members who are digitally savvy have higher sales, margins, and market share.  When talking about the higher echelons, the real measure of digital skills doesn’t come from being able to ‘use’ them per se. It comes from the acceptance of digital technologies and how readily the potential of digital is embraced.

Business leaders must accept the implementation of new digital resources and the digitalisation of processes, even if this is not how things have “always been done”.

Regarding business leaders, the digital skills gap refers to mindset, re-education, and acceptance of change over direct technical skills.

Organisations that support their employees through digital upskilling will reap the benefits. Trying to find digital talent amid such a tight candidate market has caused shifts in employment trends. Companies are looking to contract workers to fill the gaps quickly. the demand for digital is on a scale we have rarely witnessed before.

This approach of nurturing the talent you have is one way to secure the skills you need and retain the talent already at your table.

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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