By

Kjeragbolten

In last week’s blog, we examined how the widening digital skills gap is affecting employees—how work has become more about scrambling to keep up with advancing technology and less about using those new tools for growth and innovation.

It seems CEOs and other business leaders are feeling the pressure too.

According to PwC’s 21st CEO Survey, 32 percent of respondents said they are now extremely concerned that a shortage of key skills will threaten business growth—up 21 points from 2013. In another study, conducted by Capgemini and LinkedIn, 54 percent of organizations surveyed said that the digital talent gap is hindering their digital transformation efforts and causing them to lose competitive advantage.

While concern has risen sharply, action has not. Research shows that many organizations still have no formal plan in place to bridge the skills gap.

“Though leaders worry about the lack of available skills, only 39 percent of US CEOs are implementing continuous learning programs to develop and recruit people for the digital age,” according to the PwC survey.

For the CapGemini/LinkedIn survey, researchers sought out employee opinions about the widening digital skills gap and how their organizations are addressing it. Nearly a third of employees said they feel their skill set is redundant or will be within one to two years. More than half said their company’s training programs are not helpful—many described them as “useless and boring”—or that they are not provided the time to attend training.

Research shows that many organizations still have no formal plan in place to bridge the digital skills gap

For their part, employees have been taking it upon themselves to ensure they stay competitive. Among workers surveyed by Capgemini/LinkedIn, 60 percent said they are investing their own money and time outside of work hours to build their digital skills.

But without similar efforts by organizations, the digital skills gap will quickly become a chasm.

PwC recommends the following:

  1. Focus on employees’ skills, not their job descriptions: Find out what other skills employees have and use that knowledge to determine new paths for development.
  2. Take charge of reskilling: Don’t sit back and hope employees find the right resources. Enable them to build their digital and soft skills with personalized approaches and microlearning platforms.
  3. Deliver a holistic employee experience: PwC notes that half of US CEOs (50%) said they are taking steps to modernize their work environment, rolling out digital tools to give employees the flexibility they expect, and creating collaborative spaces more suited for innovation.

By taking these and other steps to create strategic, human-centered approaches, organizations can transform employees’ anxieties about the future into enthusiasm, engagement, and opportunities for growth and innovation.

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