How to tackle the skills gap: the importance of certification
Employers need to take control of the looming skills gap and ensure their employees are trained and fully certified using the latest agile techniques and digital tools.
I’ve heard it said that “while knowledge is acquired in universities, when the young scientist comes to the labour market this knowledge proves to be incomplete.”
Hands-on, practical skills and experience have always been valuable in addition to theoretical understanding. This is truer today than ever, due to the pace of technological change which is re-shaping the skills required to thrive in a competitive labour market.
It is unrealistic to expect that any one-off qualification will be enough to sustain an employee through the course of their career,
This is not a comment on the value or effectiveness of a university education. However, it is unrealistic to expect that any one-off qualification will be enough to sustain an employee through the course of their career, wherever it may have been earned.
Bridging the skills gap
The requirement for new skills is stark, as the UK strives to hold its position as a world-leading digital economy. Recent data from IDC’s Worldwide CIO Agenda 2019 Predictions shows that 30% of high-demand roles for emerging technologies will remain unfilled through 2022, while Accenture suggests that a failure to close the digital skills gap could cost the economy as much as £141.5 billion over the next 10 years.
30% of high-demand roles for emerging technologies will remain unfilled through 2022.
Beyond the economic analysis, employees are acutely aware of this gap, and its impact on their day to day working lives. Survey data from Acas reveals that more than half of UK workers believe that finding the right skills will be one of the biggest issues faced by their employer in 2019.
Meanwhile, there are several further reports which highlight that many employees rate learning and development opportunities as more important to them than other benefits, including salary in some instances.
‘Skills’ will be the buzzword of 2019 and it is an interesting word to dig into in more detail. Skills transcend titles and job roles, speaking to practical capability rather than seniority and years served.
In a competitive global job market, we will see an increased need for employees to prove and certify these skills, as technical requirements become more niche. Workers are tasked with mastering blended skill sets, for example business analysts need to combine data skills and business acumen.
Skills transcend titles and job roles, speaking to practical capability rather than seniority and years served.
Professional certifications have a major role to play in ensuring that people and businesses have the skills they need for the modern working world (and can prove it). In a world full of technology and collaborative teams, this degree of standardisation and assurance of best practice is key. It is critical to ensure that everyone working on a project has the same understanding of its technical components, use cases and security considerations.
The pace of digital development and requirement to upskill the incumbent workforce requires a much more agile approach to teaching, refreshing, testing and proving relevant knowledge, than we have historically relied on.
We cannot wait for new generations to move into the workplace and bring new knowledge with them. In the same way that we don’t tend to see people take a ‘job for life’ anymore, people won’t be able to rely on ‘one qualification for life’.
Employees are hungry for learning opportunities, with an increased commitment to their own development to ensure they can thrive and adapt in the new world of work.
Tackling the skills gap and ensuring that employees are equipped for future needs will rely on training and certification that is agile, modular and in many cases delivered remotely.
We know that employees are hungry for learning opportunities, with an increased commitment to their own development to ensure they can thrive and adapt in the new world of work. With this in mind, we can expect to see a surge in workers seeking out qualifications that are not mandated by their employer.
Effective training, mapped and tailored to an individual’s unique requirements, is one of the foundations of job satisfaction, morale and motivation. Certification of these new skills is the accompanying badge of honour, which reassures both the employee and the employer that they have the skills required to perform strongly in their role.
Byron Nicolaides is the founder and CEO of the PeopleCert Group, a global leader in the assessment and certification of professional skills, partnering with multinational organisations and government bodies to develop and deliver market-leading exams worldwide. He is also the president of the Council of European Professional Informatics...