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How Digital Upskilling Is Redefining the Talent Marketplace

October 04, 2022 Learning and Development
Suneet Dua
By Suneet Dua

The world is entering what Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of World Economic Forum, described as “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” an era in which new technologies like automation and Web3 will fundamentally transform how people live and work by blending the physical and digital realms. Companies must embrace emerging technology to ensure their future survival, but one major problem stands in their way: the digital skills gap.

Businesses have significant talent needs across data visualization, automation, data cleansing, cybersecurity and more — roles that are grounded in digital systems that today’s companies rely on to communicate and collaborate. However, much of today’s labor force does not have the skills to meet those needs. Nearly four in five US CEOs are concerned about a shortage of key skills to grow their business. A recent brief by Korn Ferry suggests that by 2030, 85 million jobs around the world could go unfilled because there are not enough people with the appropriate skills.

Executives are beginning to recognize the value of digital upskilling not only as a solution to their technology talent needs, but also as a powerful way to reinvest in their own workforce. As companies face rapid digital transformation and labor shortages, upskilling will play an essential role in building the future of work by ensuring employees have the skills needed to prepare them for future jobs.

The Talent Landscape’s Effect on Skill Development

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting remote work movement, companies confined tech talent recruitment solely to workers in certain geographic areas and with certain qualifications such as a four-year degree from specific universities. These requirements limited the available talent pool, sparking the need for a new approach to recruiting staff to meet the wave of technology innovation.

Upskilling and remote work gives companies the ability to widen their talent pool and open opportunities to include those with less traditional tech backgrounds. This introduces a fresh perspective, which can spark creativity, growth and the inspiration to view initiatives with a new lens and use automation tools in a different way.

Related Article: Why Assessments Are the Next Big Thing in Talent Strategies

Sustainable Talent Starts Within

Though resignation rates have cooled slightly since the spring of 2022, the “Great Reshuffle” continues to be an issue for US business leaders, as nearly 4.2 million Americans — close to 3% of the entire workforce, quit their job in July 2022 alone. Key drivers of this mass resignation are salary and flexibility. However, workers also expressed the need to feel their employer is invested in their job security and development. In fact, our latest Pulse Survey: Managing Business Risks found that talent recruitment and retention is the second highest concern for business leaders, second only to cybersecurity.

To address talent shortages amid today’s fluid labor market, companies should not only look for new talent, but also invest in their current employee base by tapping into digital upskilling platforms and tools to power their upskilling journey. These employees already know their companies’ priorities and processes, and consequently may add greater value if given the opportunity to use their newly acquired skills to automate processes within their functional area. 

Related Article: Learning and Development Climb to the Top of the Corporate Agenda

Future-Proofing Talent to Meet Tomorrow’s Problems

Despite speculation of a recession, our Pulse Survey found that 83% of US executives are focusing their business strategy on growth in 2022 and beyond. Moreover, business leaders believe that technology is the key to achieving growth, as companies are increasing their investment in digital transformation (53%), IT (52%) and cybersecurity (49%) more than all other areas of business. Companies understand that Web3, the metaverse, NFTs and other emerging technologies are fundamentally changing the digital landscape. Leaders understand that they must adapt to grow, remain competitive and offer value within their industry.

To do this, companies should prioritize investing in the right tools and technologies. For example in the cybersecurity space, cyber and risk tools have become widely available to businesses in recent years, empowering these organizations to think faster and act quicker — to stay atop of the ever-changing world of risk.  And while investing in the right technology is the first step, this investment can only facilitate operational improvement, strengthen controls, and address vulnerabilities if they have an upskilled workforce that will evaluate the findings and drive the implementation of the controls to manage key gaps and risks.  

In addition, the upskilling of existing employees can provide timely, measurable benefits throughout the organization since they are closest to the work, giving them the ability to drive the most impact as they have deep expertise in the space and firsthand knowledge of the positive benefits new tools and skills can have. These results can reinforce the need to continue expanding capabilities and become better users of technology.

On the edge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, companies will need to harness the best technology in tandem with a digitally savvy workforce to deliver on their business and growth strategies. Upskilling can give businesses the competitive advantage they need to navigate the new technological era and build trust from the inside out.

About the Author

As PwC’s US Products & Technology Chief Growth Officer, Suneet is responsible for driving more than $1 billion in product revenue and executing PwC’s product revenue strategy. He’s focused on driving innovation, delivering world-class, forward-thinking products and digitally upskilling the workforce and society at large.

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