An anticipated 8.6 million new tech jobs are expected to emerge over the next decade. This is a startling statistic for modern companies to digest, especially as they already face challenges to fill existing tech and IT jobs due to a growing shortage of digital talent.
In an attempt to combat the skills gap, many companies are putting all of their resources toward recruitment and onboarding – and wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as a result. The truth is, these investments are completely misplaced. If businesses took the money, energy and time spent searching for and hiring new talent and put this toward developing and upskilling existing staff they could significantly cut costs and address the skills gap more efficiently.
In order to close their own internal skills gaps, organizations need to prioritize training and development above all else. However, traditional corporate training programs will no longer suffice in the modern business landscape. To effectively close tech skills gaps and prepare workers with the knowledge they’ll need to succeed in the future workforce, companies have to approach training differently. Machine learning presents businesses with a unique opportunity to deliver optimal training experiences to learners, so long as programs are integrated strategically – and quickly.
Don’t overlook internal talent
Instead of wasting time, money and resources on searching for external skilled professionals to fill existing and emerging tech roles, businesses need to focus on training and reskilling employees internally. The businesses that are able to identify and deliver opportunities to upskill and retrain their existing staff will have a much better chance of closing the talent gap – especially because jobs that require analytics and technology skills take twice as long to fill. Making training a priority ensures that employees have the resources they need to obtain new skills and move into new roles based on their progress. This process allows businesses to accelerate the hiring process while increasing loyalty and retention along the way.
Embracing digital learning tools means companies will need to depart from traditional corporate training methods they’ve relied on for so many years. Typically, these programs are limited, focusing solely on training for technical skill sets and do not consider the various individual goals and preferences of their learners. Further, traditional learning formats don’t provide HR executives the level of insight necessary to identify skills gaps in real-time and, most importantly, recognize those that are excelling. Taking learning digital allows executives to track employee progress and identify opportunities for restructuring. For example, if a particular employee is excelling in a data science course, a comprehensive learning platform would enable HR to track that progress and determine where those skills could be leveraged to benefit the company and close talent gaps.
Technical skills training requires social interaction
Hard skills training is obviously important and necessary to closing the tech skills gap. However, training for soft skills, like creativity and collaboration, are equally important. As the industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, tech professionals will need to understand how to cope with those changes just as much as they’ll need to understand how to code.
Formal training programs should always support social learning, as the most important and meaningful learning happens through daily interactions between peers. Incorporating social elements into digital learning programs extends the life of those day-to-day interactions. Providing opportunities for co-workers to connect through a shared digital platform allows for unique opportunities to form bonds and exchange ideas. Not only does this approach create a central location for employees to connect and empower knowledge sharing, but it also encourages employees to think collaboratively and creatively – and the ability to do so will become increasingly critical in the age of automation.
While peer-to-peer communication is a vital element of the learning process, companies are also leveraging AI to mimic the benefits of peer-to-peer collaboration. AI-powered learning platforms that can anticipate employee learning habits and general interests are able to direct employees to recommended training content that will help them achieve their overall business goals. The same way an employee might offer guidance this way, eLearning programs are evolving to be able to deliver the same benefits. When it comes to closing the tech skills gap, this approach is especially helpful. AI-powered tools let companies identify employees who excel in tech-oriented training and encourage those learners to skill up further – and this allows businesses to develop those employees into the tech professionals they need to grow their business, both now and in the future.
Adaptability can be taught
The assumption that soft skills like creativity are inherently possessed is a huge misconception. The truth is, these skills can be learned – with the right training. With the pace of change in the tech industry being as fast as it is, and roles changing and emerging every day, soft skills training is becoming more important than anything else. To create a culture of adaptability, organizations need to look beyond hard skills training and focus on a wider range of soft skills – from creativity to collaboration to problem-solving.
Organizations that embrace traditional training formats that don’t focus on this type of soft skills development will find it hard to compete in modern workforces where those more human skills will make all the difference in whether or not employees are able to thrive and keep up with changes and developments in the workplace, especially in the tech sector
The demand for analytics and technology skills has never been higher. However, the most valuable employees will be those that have the skills to think creatively and problem-solve on their own as the pace of change in the workplace continues to accelerate. Organizations that are able to deliver training that prepares employees with this broad skill set will be able to address the skills gap head-on and anticipate industry changes when it matters most.
About the author: John Coffee, is a Talent Acquisition Manager at Docebo, focusing on hiring the best talent for Docebo, an E-Learning SaaS company, while implementing programs that drive retention and employee engagement.