How businesses can narrow the skills gap accelerated by Covid-19 

As the UK starts to return to a ‘new normal’ following the coronavirus pandemic, technology will be crucial in helping businesses and communities overcome the challenges that lie ahead. Specifically, digital technology will have a big part to play, both in enabling businesses to adapt and in framing what the demand for skills will look like in the future. 
 
Now, as the government looks to restart the UK’s economy and businesses focus on stabilising, we are faced with a growing skills crisis as well as recovery from the health crisis. 

Re-defining skills 

The skills gap was already acute and as the transformation of how we work and live takes hold, this also means re-defining how we learn, develop and up-skill our people. As companies look to overcome the immediate challenges of today, everyone needs to be equipped with the skills required in a world that’s becoming rapidly digitised. After all, the lack of digital skills will likely impact an organisation’s ability to get the best out of technologies and improve productivity down the line. 

Recent research we undertook at Salesforce found that 68% believe the pandemic will permanently change the nature of work, while 49% wish they had a better or more up to date skill set. Among the workforce, this demand for reskilling is evident: the majority of employees (60%) told us that they’re looking forward to retraining and learning new skills at this time. 

A challenge for business leaders 
 
Business can be the greatest platform for change and people are looking to us to play a leading role in providing them with the training and tools they need. In fact, 42% of people trust businesses to address the challenge of retraining the workforce as a result of increased automation – the most trusted institution to do so, ahead of government and NGOs. 

To equip employees with the tools they need to succeed, businesses are going to have to transform their workforce development strategy in ways they never considered only months ago. For inspiration they can look to academic institutions which are migrating lessons and interactive workshops online, and to solutions like Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning tool which can take users from a low level of technical knowledge into a Salesforce role within as little as six months. 

Supermums and Military Trailhead are just two examples of programmes that is helping people across the country return to work through online training and certifications.  

In the current climate, the onus is on all businesses and governments to bolster efforts to enhance our society’s collective knowledge and skill sets as entire workforces and careers are re-invented in the digital economy. 

This insight is part of techUK's Cloud Week 2020. You can find related news and insights here.

  • Sue Daley

    Sue Daley

    Associate Director | Technology & Innovation
    T 020 7331 2055

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