Digital transformation projects undermined by severe skills shortage

80% of employees lack the skills needed for both current and future roles - report

Man confused by laptop

While most organisations are now undergoing a digital transformation, a recent study has revealed that only 20% of employees have the digital skills needed to perform their current role.

As much as 70% of employees surveyed were found to be lacking the skills they need for their current jobs, while 80% have yet to master the skills needed to support future career development, according to a new report by Gartner.

However, the issue has been noticed by companies and many HR leaders, with 64% of managers saying they don't think their employees are able to keep pace with the skills needed for the future, suggesting a significant shortage of available talent for supporting digital transformation projects.

To combat this, Gartner suggests that employers should look to build 'connected learners', a method that integrates personal interest, peer relationships and achievement in academic and career-relevant areas, or provide a means for employees to upskill.

"In order to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world, companies must transform the skills of their workforce, both on a macro level by determining the skills their market and clients are calling for, and on a micro level, by showing employees the personal benefit to upskilling and offering experiences for them to do so," said Sari Wilde, vice president of Gartner's HR practice.

Part of the connected learning approach is to encourage employees to assess what skill areas they are likely to excel in, rather than attempting to reskill based on broad requirements set by an organisation, according to Gartner. 

The analyst firm suggests that connected learners, as opposed to continuous learners, increases employee skills by 28% to 39% across the three main areas of employee development.

The UK is predicted to be facing a skills shortage that could worsen with the impact of Brexit, according to research from Nesta. The innovation foundation created the UK's first publicly available data-driven skills taxonomy, to classify and map which industries and jobs will need more training and recruitment.

With the amount of money being invested into digital transformations and new technology, many employees will have to upskill to keep up with their current and future roles.

"This prediction should deeply worry all major organisations. For all the money being ploughed into digital transformation projects, these investments will stand or fall on the skills and abilities of the staff," Senthil Ravindran, Global Head of xLabs at consultancy Virtusa.

"If nearly two-thirds of a company's staff aren't able to keep pace with new technologies, we're going to see a huge amount of investment being wasted."

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