Countries around the world are investing heavily in upskilling and reskilling their workforces. They are seeing that this investment leads to higher GDP, more employment opportunities, higher salaries, which results in greater taxes, and a better quality of life all around. Whilst the burden of training is indeed shifting to the individual, there is still a critical role that employers of all sectors need to play in supporting individual learning and the life long pursuit of digital skills and knowledge acquisition and transfer.

Whether you look at Digital Transformation at an international, national, organisational or individual level, the one factor that remains constant is the critical importance of people and their skills to deal with the scale and pace of change in the digital era.

Every single part of any organisation, indeed any community, is digitally impacted. Our work with a variety of clients shows that central to success is the workforce’s ability to deal with the change that the rapid digitisation of the world is forcing on them. Central to the successful management of that disruption is the upskilling and reskilling of said workforce.

“The learning burden of both gathering knowledge and developing the skills that integrate that knowledge is quickly shifting to the individual. Peak performance (if not actual human survival) will depend more and more on the effective use of skills that bridge the distance between vast stores of knowledge and productive performance.”

- Parminder K. Jassal PhD, Skills 4.0. A skills model to drive Scotland’s future

In research undertaken with our partners, This is Milk and Grant funded by Skills Development Scotland it is clear that from Singapore to Latvia, Canada to The Netherlands, The Nordics to China, national and international programmes are being rolled out to fast track citizen’s access to the fundamental and practical skills they need. Both skill sets are intricately linked to each other. Only having one or the other is no longer sufficient.

The beautiful paradox for me is the fact that the fundamental skills of emotional and cultural intelligence, empathy and critical thinking, that influence and persuade coalition building and human interaction, have nothing to do with technology. They are the skills that have made humanity the dominant species for the past millennia. They are the skills that no AI or machine learning can (currently) replicate. They are, therefore, the skills that will ensure future employability.

When you marry this factor to the rapidly evolving movement away from centrist, command and control management models to collaborative, community-based “tribal” decision making, the need for embedding these fundamental skills into the workforce becomes increasingly vital.

infographic displaying the key components of digital for digital transformation

What should employers be doing to fast track this?

There are a number of factors here: Investment in the training itself and the resourcing of the gaps that the training will create. One other key element is the ability to practice these skills on an ongoing basis in a safe environment and with the acceptance that honing them will take persistent and supported repetitions.

The key then is creating the culture and an environment that embraces time for employees to continue to upskill and reskill. Not as easy as it sounds when you are a micro or small business and are running hard just to keep up with the day to day pressures of Business As Usual. Not to do it, however, is a recipe for going backwards in today's world. The best way to tackle this is to try and plan the time in. Perhaps you can use internships, apprenticeships or summer work projects for skilled students or graduates. Or you could utilise employee swaps or short term secondments. How about approaching larger employers in your area and asking if you can add your staff members to their internal courses?

Whatever the potential solution, as the employer it is advisable to add this type of thinking into your strategy and planning into the coming years. This will allow your team to remain digitally skilled, your business to be competitive and will also focus your team on tech innovations and new ways of doing the work. It also adds to staff retention and work satisfaction too.

Yes, the burden of being digitally skilled is increasingly on the individual. However, as an employer, anything you can do to ease that burden or support their curious minds can only help them, and you, to succeed. If you're interested in finding out more about Digital Transformation, or beginning your own digital evolution, but aren't sure where to start, we can help! Get in touch with us via the form below.

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