The Reskilling Imperative: The role of business to help close the digital skills gap

In the latest episode of the techUK podcast we are delighted to continue our series The Reskilling Imperative, powered by Salesforce.

Across four episodes the series explores a range of issues relating to the digital skills gap - how do we ensure that the UK workforce has the necessary skills to thrive in the workplace of today and the future, how can tech companies ensure an inclusive workforce and support those from underrepresented and marginalised communities prosper, and how can business leaders support the upskilling of their current workforce to ensure they have the opportunity to continuously develop digital skills.


In this third episode of the series, we’re delighted to share a conversation between Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, techUK President and Zahra Bahrololoumi, CEO of Salesforce UK and Ireland which focuses on the responsibility of businesses and business leaders in relation to the need to upskill and reskill to help close the digital skills gap.

The discussion begins with a focus on the fundamental changes that have taken place over the past 18-months with the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating the digital transformation of our society. Zahra highlights how the world has changed, and we are now operating in an all-digital, work from anywhere world - every aspect of our lives has been digitised in some way. This rapid digital transformation brings to the fore the need for digital skills in every industry.

Against this backdrop, businesses can’t do nothing, and urgent action is required to tackle the digital skills gap, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Zahra flags that by 2030 nine out of ten people will need to learn new skills to do their jobs and businesses need to take action to equip people to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow. Zahra gives some examples of Salesforces’ approach to this reskilling, including its online training resource Trailhead.

Jacqueline and Zahra also discuss how the pandemic has disproportionality affected black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups in the UK, and that the widening skills gap could lead to an inequality crisis. Zahra highlights the need for business leaders to promote careers in tech to everyone and widely promote the resources and training tools that are available – to build more inclusive economies training and reskilling must be central.

Finally, Jacqueline and Zahra share their thoughts on how businesses can show people who view themselves as ‘not being a tech person’ that they are capable of developing digital skills and help them realise there is a place for them in the digital economy. Zahra highlights the need for businesses to show the full spectrum of what a role or a career in tech can be. A tech career goes beyond coding and engineering, there’s a much broader range of opportunities available and businesses must showcase how accessible digital skills can be.

Make sure to listen to the full episode now to hear Jacqueline and Zahra’s conversation in full.   

If you’ve missed the previous episodes in this series, you can listen to episode one in this series, 'How to thrive in the digital economy' here and episode two, 'Creating the workforce of the future' can be found here.