The need to learn digital skills continues to grow. Unfortunately, more than 75% of those polled in Salesforce’s Global Digital Skills Index felt they are not ready to work in a digital-first world. And only 28% are actively learning through digital skills training and learning programs. Even with the adoption of so many digital tools during the pandemic, is the digital divide growing?
We are seeing a gap emerge between the common everyday digital skills and those needed for work, and this is especially high with younger workers. As we saw during the pandemic, the use of collaboration technologies is going to be a critical skill for the foreseeable future.
According to Salesforce, “It’s a common assumption that developed countries and younger generations feel more prepared for the digital skills demanded by today’s jobs. But these findings challenge those assumptions. In fact, many respondents say they feel unequipped and unprepared for some of the most important digital skills needed for the workplace.”
Even though Gen Z and most millennials grew up with the web and social media, mastering those platforms is not the same as the skill set needed in the workplace. However, this is also the most confident generation when it comes to learning new skills, with more than a third actively learning new digital skills.
While it is surprising that younger generations aren’t as savvy as we’d expect, the gap in everyday skills reaches across all generations. Of the total respondents, 76% felt they had intermediate or advanced everyday digital skills, only 25% think they are advanced in collaboration technology skills specifically for the workplace.
The gap is just as evident with leadership. More than half of senior leaders believe they have the necessary digital skills. However, less than half of managers and individual contributors agree, which indicates a disconnect between the two groups.
“There’s a gap between the frontier of innovation and the skills necessary to use those innovations,” said Peter Schwartz, SVP, Strategic Planning and Chief Futures Officer, Salesforce. “That in itself, is not new. But what is new, is the scope of that innovation, how widespread it is, how it has diffused in every aspect of life. It is hard to do almost anything these days without some form of digital interaction.”
According to a recent RAND Europe report commissioned by Salesforce, the digital skills gap has a significant financial impact. They estimate that the 14 G20 countries could sacrifice $11.5 trillion cumulative GDP growth if the skills gap is not addressed.
There are a number of ways businesses can play a leading role in closing the gap. Building on existing learning communities. There are a number of learning programs out there already, and by taking advantage of these platforms, business leaders can accelerate digital skills training for their organizations.
They can also capitalize on the interest younger generations have in learning new digital skills. These cohorts are confident and ambitious to learn new skills. They can set the tone for others to follow. Companies can also focus on in-demand digital skillsets for real-world needs like cyber security that aren’t typically offered in the school curriculum.
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