Area Vice President Skillsoft
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How to nurture ‘digital dexterity’ to build skills for the future of work

Digital transformation is changing the job description for many employees – and even making some roles obsolete. To ensure employees are equipped for the future, companies need to be adaptable when it comes to skills training. Here are three key considerations for developing this ‘digital dexterity’.

24th Apr 2020
Area Vice President Skillsoft
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In an age of digital transformation, it’s not surprising that many people are concerned about technology and its impact on their future job security, irrespective of their current career path. Indeed, research carried out last year among IT professionals found that 81% thought they will need to learn a new skill in the next 18 months to remain confident and competent in their current role, with 47% confirming their team or department currently lacks the skills or capabilities required to meet the needs of the business today.

The challenge – and skills gap – is clear, and yet more than half of those surveyed (59%) were concerned that they will not receive enough training or preparation from their current organisation to remain employable or skilled in the future.

More than ever, organisations need to map professional development and talent needs based on future market dynamics and find ways to ensure these credentials can be achieved in house.

Those concerns are reflected by employers, and organisations across Europe are facing a major skills challenge caused by digital transformation, with many struggling to keep pace with learning and development (L&D) needs. A 2020 study carried out in the UK, France and Germany, for example, found that reskilling in the face of changing and increasingly digital working environments is the biggest single issue for L&D professionals across all three countries.

As a result, there is a growing need for organisations to raise their game by reskilling and upskilling more people to meet employment needs now and in the future. The ability of businesses to build ‘digital dexterity’ into their learning and development culture will determine who is best placed to take advantage of our shared digital future.

The best digital dexterity training programmes have distinctive characteristics. For one thing, they cover the basics of digital technologies and their strategic use in organisations. They also address digital transformation and its related technical and behaviour-based topics. What’s more, they use a variety of tools and technologies to help learners extract maximum value from the training. Below, we’ll list the key considerations.

1. The introduction of continuous learning

In an always-connected world, there are much faster, easier, cheaper and more effective ways to learn in the workplace than the day-long classroom sessions of old. Lifelong learning through continuous, on-demand, personalised learning platforms enables individuals to access the training necessary for their role, giving each employee a sense of ownership and control over their future employability. Short snippets of content also provide far greater cut-through in an era of constant distraction and enable ‘in the moment’ learning when practical needs arise. The continuous nature of online learning is also vital for digital transformation due to the need for constant upskilling.

2. The option to build new qualifications in house

Plotting a career path is critical for professionals, particularly in the technology space due to specialisation, certifications and the speed of change. More than ever, organisations need to map professional development and talent needs based on future market dynamics and find ways to ensure these credentials can be achieved in house.

For example, among technology workers, the top career paths people take to stay current and look to the future include moving from data analyst to data scientist, or application developer to blockchain engineer. By following learning journeys with sequenced instruction that methodically progresses on prescribed tasks, functions or roles, individuals can move towards their aspirational role. Each journey should include a range of assets, including practice labs, video courses and multi-modal resources that culminate in a credential. By deploying an integrated way to obtain new qualifications within an organisation, employees feel valued and supported by their employer to reach their ‘dream job’, while employers can rest assured the skills they require will be available when they need.

3. An emphasis on soon-to-be ‘obsolete’ roles

A big focus of professional development in today’s environment must be on ensuring at-risk employees – people’s whose jobs might soon be obsolete – are nurtured into new roles through appropriate training and redeployment. Employers should, therefore, identify which roles are likely to change, the skills these people currently possess and where else that knowledge could be applied.

Talk to people who might be affected about their ambitions and what they would do if given the opportunity to learn something new. Mapping individual transition plans for the most vulnerable employees will give them peace of mind, avoid jeopardising valuable talent and ensure organisations are prepared when the lights go out on particular roles.

Retaining the best staff

Now, more than ever, organisations cannot afford to lose quality staff. This means meeting employee concerns head on, as well as actively preparing them for the future demands of the workplace. Employers must address digital transformation by investing in personalised career mobility plans and upskilling – particularly for at-risk roles – and find new ways to use this people power to their advantage. By looking to technology to help build successful L&D strategies, organisations can secure all of the benefits of disruptive change while giving employees the greatest opportunity to develop.

Interested in this topic? Read Digital technology: how to encourage employees to embrace change.

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