Mind The Gap: Bridging The Digital Skills Gap In The Professional Services Industry [Blog]

Head of Product Richard Beeston explains how to future-proof your organisation against the impact of the skills shortage

It is a truth universally acknowledged that rapid advances in technologies have created a demand for newly skilled workers. So how should your organisation prepare?

Skilled workers are already an attractive key factor that set successful companies apart from failing ones. In a business world that is fast-becoming data driven, the European Commission believes that there could be as many as 756,000 unfilled jobs in the European ICT sector this year1. In fact, skills gaps across all industries are only set to increase in the Fourth Industrial Revolution2.

Rapid advances in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are happening in ever shorter cycles, changing the very nature of the jobs that need to be done – and the skills needed to do them – faster than ever before. According to the World Economic Forum, around 133 million new roles will be created over the next two years as a result of the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms. There will also be strong demand for technical skills such as programming along with skills that computers can’t easily master such as creative thinking, problem-solving and more importantly, negotiating – skills that are paramount within the professional services industry.

So how does this affect you?

As new roles continue to emerge and skills requirements change, the size of the existing pool of skilled workers just isn’t going to be big enough to consistently meet demand. Professional services firms simply won’t be able to fall back on hiring new employees as they attempt to future-proof their workforce.

So what options do you have now as you prepare for such a rapidly changing future?

Sizing the gap

Timing, as always, is critical. In order to start addressing the problem now, organisations must invest more in enabling their existing workforce to reskill. The World Economic Forum estimates that more than half (54%) of all employees will require significant reskilling by 20223, but that the skills shortage is likely to be even more acute in some regions. Figures from the European Commission4 show that around 37% of workers in Europe don’t have even basic digital skills, not to mention the more advanced and specialised skills companies need to successfully adopt digital technologies.

Many businesses believe that implementing workforce training programmes will help them prepare for future disruptions or innovations but, because of budgetary constraints, lack of employee time to participate in training, and lack of appropriate training technology, uptake is slow. As the skills gap widens, businesses that don’t take steps now to tackle the problem will be left behind. Business leaders need to take a careful look at the technical and ‘human’ skills needed in order to future-proof their workforce, and move quickly to free up the resources needed to take the first steps towards building a culture of learning among their employees.

Harness an employee-friendly culture

In a competitive jobs market, securing the best talent out there isn’t only about offering an attractive salary package and other perks. Millennial employees, in particular, want to work for an organisation of which they can feel proud and in which they have the same amount of digital freedom as they do at home; these potential employees with high-value skills will vote with their feet if a business doesn’t align with their needs.

So the organisations that are successful in workforce transformation will be those that are able to harness new and emerging technologies to reach higher levels of efficiency of production and consumption.

Invest in employee-friendly technology

Many companies have started looking into or, in some cases, developing their own courseware for reskilling and upskilling employees. Several online learning platforms all promise to help businesses stay ahead of digital disruption by offering courses in areas that are needed. Similarly, other companies have developed their own online learning platforms, allowing users to take control of their own training and develop the skills they’ll need in the future.

However training or upskilling needs to be delivered, the step before need that needs to be firmly in place first – infrastructure.

Daisy Corporate Services and Extreme Networks can help you simplify and transform your infrastructure, so that you can focus on driving your business forward. From wired and wireless connectivity, to switching and routing, through to network management and security solutions, we’re here to help put your business ahead of the game.

Manage your network complexity

Why not start with Extreme Management Centre technologies to help you to free up your IT team’s time so they can focus on innovative activities that can help retain top talent and improve job satisfaction?

The solution allows you to give staff the freedom to work anywhere, whilst always being connected; deliver a high-quality, trouble-free user experience with one easy-to-use dashboard, and can enable you to rapidly onboard BYOD users and Internet-connected devices, helping them to access all the sensitive information and training materials they’ll need to perform their job whilst futureproofing your business at the same time.

Another way to manage network complexity is to improve visibility. Extreme Management Centre lets you understand and control what happens on your wired or wireless network through centralised visibility, data-driven insights, and granular control over users, devices, and applications.

Implement network automation

Professional services providers should also consider investing in automation to make up for the talent gaps in the IT workforce. Automation won’t replace the need for IT staff, but it will remove the need for time-consuming manual tasks, which are prone to human error and can lead to serious downtime, security breaches and further complications. Most importantly, automation can empower staff to be proactive and build skills by focusing on more strategic initiatives.

When in doubt, outsource

Outsourcing the management of your network will help you to improve day-to-day operations as you educate existing employees and seek new talent. We can relieve your IT team from ongoing network operational demands through managed services, so they can focus on business priorities without worrying about the health of your network.

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When it comes to the competitive landscape of the professional services sector, organisations have no choice but to address this skills shortage — or risk falling prey to the competition.

Daisy Corporate Services can help you put the right technology in the hands of your employees, meaning that your employees are more connected and your clients see the benefits too – met deadlines, fulfilled projects, productive partnerships.

Through a combination of smart use of automation and a focus on people, the professional services sector can begin to address the skills shortage and drive their business into the future.

Richard Beeston is Head of Product at Daisy Corporate Services

1  European Commission E-Skills and Jobs in the Digital Age
2 Salesforce.com What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? 
3 World Economic Forum
4 European Commission