September signals the end of the summer break and back to school for parents and children across the UK. But a return to learning should not just be for the young.
The UK is in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), which is reshaping organisations, industries and the whole economy. History shows us that as technology evolves, so do the skills required in society, and yet 82% of UK companies say they lack the data science skills necessary for 4IR capabilities. This digital skills gap in the UK is of pressing concern to us and is a challenge in boardrooms across the country.
A short-term fix would be for organisations - be that in the public or private sector - to pay a premium to acquire talent with skills in demand. But this is unsustainable. A smarter solution is to promote a culture of lifelong learning, with organisations empowering employees with the learning tools that will allow them to gain the skills they need. This is important because, according to our research, 72% of UK consumers believe that business leaders need to step up and help create a successful global Britain, from preparing their workforce for emerging technology’s impact on jobs to reskilling employees and addressing the digital skills gap.
At Salesforce, we have the responsibility to help our customers reskill when new technology is made available. It is necessary that we provide tools and training for our customers, partners and employees so they can utilise new innovations to the max, in a way that suits their business. Salesforce has developed its own free, online learning platform, Trailhead, which allows users to take control of their own training and develop the skills they’ll need in the future.
A nuance in effectively addressing the skills gap is ensuring that everyone - no matter their age, background or skill level - has the opportunity to gain the skills that are needed in the future workforce. We recently pledged to help 250,000 people across Europe work towards a Salesforce certification by 2022, using Trailhead. It’s possible to go from a low level of technical knowledge into a Salesforce role in as little as six months. The modular learning system provides routes in to critical roles, from Salesforce administrators, to marketers and coders.
We’ve also started to work with organisations that are designed to draw out the untapped potential in our society. One examples is Salesforce Supermums who support mothers to train in Salesforce CRM, offering a route to a rewarding, well-paid, flexible job that fits around family life.
Another example is Salesforce Vetforce and FDM Group who work to prepare current service members, veterans, and military spouses for civilian careers in IT, consulting, or sales through career-specific training. To date, over 300 Armed Forces veterans and their partners have registered onto the free Salesforce training programmes for veterans.
The tools to develop this future workforce exist right now. We need to build confidence across our economy that a career in technology can take many forms and that free online learning makes it possible for everyone to make the jump.
To drive this change, there needs to be a cultural shift, both in our attitude to learning and in making these emerging roles accessible for everyone. From public to private sector and collectively as an industry, we must take action to encourage individuals to adopt and embrace new digital skills.