The world’s workforce is facing a technology skills crisis. Digital-first strategies and embracing emergent technologies are now key to an organization’s success, and all companies must now become tech companies. To achieve this, 9 in 10 UK workers are being tasked with learning new digital skills by 2030 – but 76% of the workforce does not yet feel skilled in the technologies that their organizations are adopting.
While this type of digital skills gap existed long before the pandemic, our research has found that the pandemic and the Great Resignation, as well as the rise of remote working, have widened the gap. Expertise in technologies like cloud, cybersecurity and data storage are facing the biggest gaps, and it is now imperative for leaders in all industries to address the skills gaps within their organizations in order to survive and thrive amid digital transformations.
The good news for leaders is that UK employees have a huge appetite for developing their skills - 70% of UK workers are interested in upskilling this year, and nearly seven in 10 (67%) workers believe that new skills will help them achieve their career goals. Simultaneously, those businesses who invest in L&D will reap the rewards of a more committed and productive workforce whilst mitigating the risk of talent loss.
For the majority of organizations, the best way to weather the current tech skills shortage is to invest in developing your existing workforce. Here are some ways to effectively upskill an organization to build winning technology teams.
The first step in developing a technology workforce is to build a programmatic approach to upskilling. In order for real change to be made in an organization, business leaders must create concrete processes for implementing that change. According to Forbes, organizational change requires executive buy-in for new initiatives, making data-driven decisions to improve business outcomes and pushing for cultural change.
In the context of tech skills development, creating a culture of learning within an organization is key. HR teams and managers need to look for ways to make programmatic and cultural changes that encourage continuous learning within tech teams. For instance, setting aside two hours every other week for employees to prioritize their learning can be a great way to encourage a culture of learning. The goal with this block of time is to create a safe environment to enable individuals to spend time investing in themselves and deepening their tech skills. This allows team members the time to address their skills gaps and signals that upskilling is a priority for the business.
Additionally, business leaders need to view having an upskilling program as a strategic imperative rather than a “nice to have.” The key here is committing time, effort and resources to ensure that tech teams have what they need to close their skills gaps. According to McKinsey, the companies that invest in closing their tech talent gaps will be the most successful in the era of digital transformation. The investment given to upskilling will pay dividends in the future, aiding business growth and strengthening an organization’s ability to react to emergent technologies and deliver value to customers.
Today, a key focus for many leaders is building agile technology teams. The agile methodology responds to a growing problem – the need for tech teams to deliver products and updates quickly in an accelerating digital environment. According to research from the Harvard Business Review, agile rollouts are tricky, with nearly 90% of business leaders surveyed saying they have had some difficulty in becoming agile on an organizational scale. In order for organizations to be truly agile, they must promote a culture of continuous learning and upskilling.
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and more employees are needed to work with it. In fact, the number of tech roles in England and Wales surged by 105% year on year, reaching record levels in 2021. However, the tech skills that were relevant and fresh just two years ago may already be out of date. In today’s work climate, it is not enough to only focus on building specific tech skills that serve your business in the here and now. Instead, it is important to embed learning in the flow of work of tech teams.
Rather than thinking only about short-term skills development needs, such as getting engineers up to speed on the cloud, businesses must turn their attention to how they can future-proof their tech teams by giving them the tools they need to learn emerging technologies in real time.
This is not deemphasizing the importance of coordinated learning efforts for specific skills gaps. Instead, it highlights that tech teams who adopt a daily learning mindset may never have to play “catch up” to learn new technologies but ,instead, will naturally keep pace with new innovations.
The Great Resignation has shed light on the importance of human-centric leadership that focuses on the growth and development of individual contributors. As droves of tech workers quit their jobs in search of more fulfilling work in the past two years, it has become clear that organizations need to do more to decrease burnout and to show that they are invested in the well-being of their employees. Organizations should aspire to be creators, rather than consumers of talent.
This means that as tech talent becomes harder to hire, business leaders must look internally for the tech talent that they desperately seek. By investing in upskilling and workforce development, organizations can create tech talent pipelines from within their organization.
Being a creator rather than a consumer of talent doesn’t end with using internal talent to bolster tech teams, though. The idea encompasses a broader ethic of investing in your employees so that they have the space to learn and grow, strengthening their own career trajectories. Tech skills gaps can be a daunting challenge for any organization, but by prioritizing the holistic learning journeys of employees, business leaders can begin closing the gaps.