Saturday, September 30, 2023

How Australia can turn the digital skills shortage into an opportunity

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Shreya Christinahttps://cafe-madrid.com
Shreya has been with cafe-madrid.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider cafe-madrid.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Wehave heard a lot about the shortage of IT skills, the Great layoffand the impact the pandemic has had on labor availability across the economy.

Economic consultancy AlphaBeta has: estimated that 3.7 million Australian workers will need training in digital skills in the coming year to cope with the changes in their jobs caused by the pandemic.

Thata daunting figure, 29% of the workforce, especially as we face an acute shortage of people with the skills and experience to drive digital transformation projects from healthcare and financial services to manufacturing and the public sector.

But the AlphaBeta study, commissioned by cloud partner Amazon Web Services, also suggests:s plenty of potential to make progress in the short term.

A survey of more than 1,000 Australian workers and 300 organizations ranging from small businesses to large enterprises found that employers and their employees were eager to embrace new digital skills in areas such as cloud computing and cybersecurity.

While only 30% of employers surveyed indicated that they currently had a fully operational digital skills program in place, 97% of them saw the need for digital upskilling, which they believe would improve employee productivity, accelerate digitization goals, and would help with employee retention.

The flip side of the coin is that 62% of employees believe they will need cloud skills training by 2025 to progress in their careers. The hunger for further training is there. And thenis the problem? Whatstops us?

Unfortunately, our skills development pathways are not flexible enough to help both technical workers who are part of our IT workforce and non-technical workers embrace the digital skills that are now essential to our economy.

We continue to rely too heavily on tertiary qualifications that can take months or years to complete, at a high cost to the student. Options for retraining or a full career shift are unclear to people who don’t have time to complete them anyway.

For years, we relied on computer science graduates and highly skilled migrants to attract the skilled people to enable technological transformation.

But the world has changed. Border restrictions of the past two years have limited the supply of highly skilled and experienced workers.

More fundamentally, digital skills are now required to a greater extent for all types of jobs, from owning a small business to working in marketing, retail or agriculture.

We rightly see ourselves as an innovative country that has embraced digital technologies in both the public and private sectors. But wehave lagged behind other countries in developing our digital skills to fit the new reality.

The talent challenge

At Datacom, we employ 3,250 people in Australia and a further 3,470 in Tasmania. I wonWe shy away from the fact that accessing the right talent is currently our biggest challenge and top priority as a company.

As a company, we hire hundreds of tertiary graduates in Australasia every year. But we’ve broadened our approach to recruiting and training significantly. We made the TalentX platform to help graduates, students and professionals meet like-minded people and discover opportunities to develop their careers in technology.

This year we are organizing Datacomp, where TalentX student participants team up with our Datacom squads during our annual innovation competition.

We take graduates from the AWS restart/restart program, in which the unemployed and underemployed take a free, full-time, 12-week course in cloud computing skills. Last year we also had new recruits from the Microsoft Traineeship Program

Datacom also has a range of internal initiatives to ensure we help our employees build the skills they – and the wider technology industry – need for the future.

Our Transform initiative empowers employees to identify a new area to further develop their skills in, and over a six-month period, they are given time, guidance and job shadowing opportunities to prepare them for new roles.

By investing in initiatives such as Transform, we give our people the opportunity to grow and perform in their own personal journey, while also future-proofing the success of our organization by ensuring we can meet the evolving needs of our customers .

Our Aspire and Strive programs help every employee set their goals, pursue training opportunities for continuous development, provide funding for professional qualifications, and recognize development efforts.

Wehave invested millions in our in-house skills development programs, including Skillsofts Percipio platform, which is comparable to Spotify for skills and training. When we recently surveyed our own employees, we found that flexible work options and the opportunity to grow in their career were the top two priorities.

For us, a big part of tackling the skills shortage is helping our people develop their skills and pursue new challenges and opportunities within Datacom. ThatIt’s essential to retaining talent in a market where skilled IT workers can earn top dollar and choose where they want to go. We must nurture the talent we already have.

The AlphaBeta study is a wake-up call. But if every Australian employer mobilizes to some extent to bridge that digital skills gap, we now have an excellent opportunity to build the workforce we need for the future. The pathways for employees to a higher level of digital skills should be as clear-cut as the appetite for change that the survey has shown.

There is not one thing that will solve this problem. ItIt is not up to the tertiary education providers or the government to solve this. We must share this responsibility. As our world becomes more digitized, the future of our economy and social well-being depends on doing it right.

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