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Digital skills gap is a risk to companies

skills gap

Paul Dunne

Founder and CEO, Digital Skills Academy

Companies are not investing in digital skills, and rely on third parties. They rely on others to deliver their business transformation, risk losing relevance and their competitive edge in the digital landscape.

In the last number of years there has been much discussion about the digital skills challenge. However there is still a massive shortages in the pipeline of this talent being fed in to the workforce.

We need people already in the work force to become more hybrid in their abilities.

Paul Dunne, Founder, CEO, Digital Skills Academy, believes more needs to be done today to upskill the country’s current workforce.

“There’s a clear skills gap in ICT, especially in areas such as data science and app development,” he says.

“But there is also a digital skills shortage across all business functions in organisations, and particularly in digital business management. Bridging this skills gap is about enabling people already in the workforce to become digitally-empowered and more hybrid. This is so that business professionals develop greater understanding of tech, and our technology experts become more business-savvy.

“It also means organisations need to foster cross-functional teamwork. We need to break down siloes so that digital transformation becomes a mindset throughout organisations and a common language internally.”

A shortage in digital skills adds financial risks

Digital Transformation is inevitable. Because of this, businesses must upskill their own talent pools with fundamental digital skills. If not they will rely on recruiting from outside the organisation, there are several important ramifications to consider, Dunne warns.

“Companies that don’t invest in equipping their own staff with the necessary skills risk siloes remaining across their organisation.”

“Perhaps the biggest risk is that businesses end up relying solely on a ‘buy’ strategy. This is going out to the market to try recruit the skills they need. However, this proves to be a costly and counter-productive solution resulting in new hires in critical roles. These roles have a ramp time to build up their company knowledge, and internalise the company culture and values. Instead of being overly dependent on a ‘buy’ strategy, organisations should give greater focus to a ‘build’ strategy, providing staff with the training that will enable them to develop a sustainable digital skill set and address digital innovation in the business.”

“Investing in employees’ skills, career and educational development is also highly valued and leads to improved employee retention and higher productivity rates,” highlights Dunne.

Financial services, tech and telecoms affected by skill gap

According to Dunne, the skills required for digital business transformation strategies to succeed are missing to varying degrees across all industries. But several sectors stand out.

The most affected are are financial services, technology and telecommunication; and their marketers, managers and consultants.

“The most highly affected sectors that we notice are financial services, technology, telecommunications and technology consultancies,” he explains.

“They need to embed digital skills within their roles. This entails developing their skill gap set in areas such as user experience (UX) design, agile project management and agile thinking, digital innovation, and digital collaboration. Among tech roles , there’s a real need for more data scientists who can turn analytics in to insights, and data engineers who can build applications to exploit this”.

The pace of digital transformation exposes a growing skills gap that needs to be bridged faster than is currently being achieved. Rather than just relying on ‘buying-in’, companies must upskill their current workforce to empower them to tackle the challenges of digital transformation. Preparing an already-existing team for digitalisation means utilising a current skill set that already understands the organisation, thus boosting efficiency while retaining and developing talent.

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