How UK organisations can address the digital dexterity challenge

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Written by Agata Nowakowska on 2 April 2020 in Features
Features

It's not just about transformation, it's about digital dexterity, says Agata Nowakowska.

Digital transformation poses a unique conundrum for UK organisations.

On the one hand, investing in new tech represents an opportunity to move the enterprise forward and initiate innovative ways of working. But realising measurable value ultimately depends on having a digital-ready workforce in place that’s able to embrace and use these new tools.

Recent fast-paced advances in digitalisation, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation means that the retraining and upskilling of workers is fast becoming an urgent business priority. Indeed, according to McKinsey Global Institute, around a quarter of the workforce will need new competences by 2023.

So, how are UK companies responding to this new imperative?

Scoping the reskilling challenge

Closing the digital dexterity skills gap caused by disruptive change is already a top concern for many UK L&D professionals. So much so that 48% say it’s a more pressing issue than Brexit.

Accelerating technology-enabled change will prove difficult for those organisations that persist in archaic L&D practices, annual reviews and day-long workshops

In terms of their current reskilling priorities, 28% of L&D professionals identified operational personnel as the cohort of workers most likely to be impacted by upcoming technology implementations.

Yet when it comes to supporting employees to adapt to these new workplace realities, many companies appear to be dragging their feet.

A recent study conducted at Digital Transformation Expo Europe found that 89% of IT professionals believe their organisation should be doing more to provide the training, learning and upskilling opportunities they need. Worse still, 59% said their company preferred hiring new talent over upskilling existing employees.

It’s time to get serious about digital dexterity

With digital skills in short supply on the open market, UK companies will struggle to address their needs through recruitment alone. Meanwhile, their workforces will be increasingly concerned that they are not receiving enough training or preparation to ensure they remain employable or skilled enough for the future.

That’s not a recipe for long-term success.

 

In an era that’s defined by escalating technology disruption, UK companies must build digital dexterity into the DNA of their workforces. In the first instance that means improving the digital skills and competencies of employees by initiating continuous learning strategies that make it easy for workers to re-tool and stay productive.

Investing in people

Proactively preparing for change begins with evaluating how emerging technologies are likely to impact job roles, so that existing workers can be re-trained to stay ahead of the curve.

Workforce skills mapping of the current talent pool will also be critical to understanding exactly what re-training investments will be required in the short, mid and long term. That includes identifying whose job roles might soon be obsolete, where this talent could be re-deployed, and how best to nurture these individuals into new roles.

With employee productivity and engagement dependent on having the right skills to perform optimally, giving employees access to lifelong learning programmes is becoming a competitive imperative.

Engaging holistically with digital transformation

Digital transformation shouldn’t be viewed as just an IT programme. Managing the successful transition to a digital workplace requires a more holistic approach that includes empowering people to become high performance digital employees.

In other words, ensuring all staff can access the appropriate training and support they will need to take on new roles or acquire new skills as their roles evolve.

The good news is that in today’s always-connected world, tapping into on-demand personalised learning platforms that give individuals access to the multi-modal training resources – including practice labs and video courses – necessary to equip them for their role has never been easier.

Whether that’s giving employees access to online training that supports constant up-skilling, or the delivery of individualised and structured professional learning journeys that enable people to work towards – and obtain - new credentials.

Taking charge of digital dexterity

For organisations that can’t afford to lose quality staff, investing in an upskilling programme that supports people to transition with confidence is a strategic move that will accelerate digital dexterity across the business.

And those companies that are winning the race to become digitally fit-for-business are leveraging on-demand learning technologies that give employees the greatest opportunities to develop.

In other words, they’ve recognised that future proofing the workforce – and ensuring the workforce is flexible enough to participate in new technology initiatives – is vital for competing effectively in today’s ever-changing digital economy.

One thing’s for sure. Accelerating technology-enabled change will prove difficult for those organisations that persist in archaic L&D practices, annual reviews and day-long workshops. Or attempt to recruit their way out of a digital skills deficit.

Ultimately, successful digital transformation depends on adopting a new mindset, building up the digital confidence and competence of the workforce, and constantly evaluating and enhancing its digital capabilities.

 

About the author

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President at Skillsoft

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