The UK’s digital revolution has transformed our lives, from the way we shop to the way we communicate. A recent study conducted by Virgin Media O2 Business and Censuswide found that 55% of firms are now suffering from a digital skills gap since the Covid-19 pandemic. The shortage spans industries from Life Science, Data Protection, and SAP to Cyber Security, Software Engineering, and Data and Analytics, with 83% of businesses concerned about its long-term impact. Only 36% of workers reported that their organisation provided digital training, only adding to the challenge.
Despite the growing shortage, digital transformation is now more critical than ever, as organisations adapt to hybrid working and a digital-first customer experience. A 2023 study by Mckinsey & co. revealed that more than 50% of executives and business owners are investing in technology for a competitive advantage or refocusing their entire business strategy around digital technologies, this is compared to only 10% in 2017 who considered cost-saving as the most important part of their digital strategy. The need for digital transformation talent is urgent, and addressing the skills gap is crucial to stay ahead in today’s digital age.
What’s driving the skills gap and how big is it really?
There are several factors continuing to widen the already growing gap in the shortage of talent in digital transformation industries. The rapid pace of technological innovation has created new job roles and skills requirements, but despite the growing demand for digital transformation specialists, there is a continuous limited supply of individuals with the necessary skills and expertise to fulfil these roles.
A severe lack of investment into digital skills training and education, particularly in underrepresented groups i.e. women and young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds has led to a shortage in certain areas and limited diversity of perspectives and experiences within digital transformation. According to a recent report by the charity The Sutton Trust, young people and women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face barriers to entering high-skilled digital transformation professions. The report found that they are less likely to pursue degrees in computer science and related fields, and less likely to have access to the networks and resources necessary to break into the industry.
In addition, as addressed, Covid-19 was and continues to be a major contributing factor the shortage of talent within the digital transformation industry. Many workers have revaluated their personal goals and entire career goals, with some leaving the industry altogether.
How to bridge the gap?
As digital transformation and innovation continues to reshape industries across Wales and the rest of the UK and Europe, businesses are facing an incredibly difficult question: How do I bridge the talent shortage gap?
It’s a challenge that is facing every sector from Life Science and SAP to Data and Analytics, and Software Engineering, and it’s a question that nearly all businesses are having to ask themselves. As a business, it’s important to recognise that if you aren't reacting to the changing digital transformation landscape, you're more likely to get left behind. To help bridge the talent shortage gap, Conexus has identified a list of the top 5 actions that businesses and business owners can take to ensure that they’re not one of the many businesses succumbing to the digital transformation talent shortage.
1. Invest in digital skills training and education
Collaborating with external educational programmes is a smart way for businesses to help their team members stay up to date with the latest technological advances. By offering opportunities for continued learning, businesses can help their employees develop additional skills needed for roles in the digital transformation arena. Investing in internal training and upskilling programs is effective in closing the talent shortage gap while demonstrating to staff that the company is committed to ongoing learning and development.
2. Embrace equality, diversity, and inclusion
Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace is a key strategy for attracting top talent from underrepresented and marginalised groups. By opening up available roles to support forward-thinking professionals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, businesses can promote a company culture that encourages creativity, innovation, and diversity. This approach can be hugely beneficial for the business as a whole and help bridge the talent shortage gap.
3. Offer competitive compensation and benefits
Retaining top talent is crucial for bridging the talent shortage gap in the digital transformation sector. Offering competitive salaries and additional bonuses that prioritise the health and wellbeing of employees and their loved ones, as well as cultivating a positive workplace culture can help to create a loyal workforce who will then be more likely to refer others into the business. A recent study by Monster.com revealed that 42% of UK employees would choose to work longer hours rather than work for a company that doesn’t value culture.
4. Build strong partnerships and networks
By collaborating with other organisations, industry associations, charities, local groups, and other business leaders, companies can establish and maintain a talent pipeline that spans different talent pools and areas. This can help businesses broaden their reach and attract more diverse talent to help bridge the talent shortage in digital transformation.
5. Develop flexible work arrangements
Providing flexible working arrangements such as remote working or flexitime can be a very effective way to both attract and retain digital transformation specialists who prioritise work-life balance and flexibility. Additionally, flexible working options offer the opportunity for businesses to broaden their talent pool, allowing them to consider candidates from outside of their immediate geographical area.
The shortage of talent across the digital transformation sector continues to be a pressing issue for businesses across the UK and Europe. The gap is a result of rapidly expanding technological innovation coupled with a lack of investment in digital skills training, and the aftermath of Covid-19. Businesses that fail to react risk being left behind, and now more than ever it’s crucial for businesses to take action to help bridge the talent shortage gap. By implementing these top 5 actions, businesses can begin to attract and retain top talent and stay ahead in today’s digital age.