Ignoring the ‘digital talent’ gap, an alarming trend

Today, no sector can stay immune to the power of the digital opportunity and yet when companies don’t invest in developing their digital skills they instantly fall in the ‘digitally immature’ category! 
The world faces a bewildering array of digital opportunities and various companies, including traditional ones, are adapting to them in their own way. But the ‘digitally immature’ among them adopt a half-hearted commitment and fail to acknowledge the magnitude of training and re-skilling that is required. Their lackadaisical approach towards the digital skills gap in their current employee base is enough proof of their short-sightedness. 
An alarming 2015 research warns of the bleak consequences of Australian society’s unpreparedness for the future digital landscape. According to a study by the not-for-profit Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), almost 60 per cent of Australian students are training for careers that won’t exist in 10 years’ time. It reports that young students are chasing jobs that would be obsolete due to automation and digital technologies. The study states that the national curriculum of the country is stuck in the past and needs to urgently address digital education in a big way in its syllabus. 
Some equally worrisome findings came forth from Oxford professors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne in 2014. According to Frey and Osborne, advances in robotics and computing could wipe out as much as a third of all UK jobs over the next 20 years. And, their findings conclude that in the US, 47 per cent of total employment is at risk due to automation and digital technologies. 
On the other side of this spectrum, lie the employers. And the trend is alarming this side too! Employers are reluctant to train their employees despite the work landscape getting radically transformed through digital technology, as shown by the few #digerati (also spelled as ‘digirati’) companies of the world. 
In a research study of 450 companies, the MIT Sloan Center for Digital Business found an alarming lack of investment and alignment with digital strategy among companies. This means companies still have a long way to go if they want to stay relevant in this rapidly changing digital environment. Consider these statistics: Although 87 per cent of companies interviewed acknowledge that digital transformation is a competitive opportunity, over 90 per cent of companies are facing an acute shortage of these skills. And yet they are not investing enough in sourcing or developing the required skills with only 46 per cent investing in the development of digital skills. 
Moreover, existing efforts to develop these skills are also out of sync. Only 4 per cent of companies align their training efforts with their digital strategy. Also no company spends more than 20 per cent of its training budget on digital. What’s more, only 20 per cent of companies’ workforce benefits from this specific training. 
Updating the skills of employees is of prime importance but it doesn’t work in isolation. It must be a synergy of technology and business acumen. Only when the technical talents attain a strong understanding of business strategies and business professionals learn the language of IT, that’s when a company reaches game-changing level in its employee resource. 
Agreed there are no guiding signposts on the way, but investing in digital training is the only way forward if you are not looking to get wiped out by competitors who have reached the #digerati level.