Enablement programs the sustainable solution to the digital skills shortage

Enablement programs might be the solution to supplying staff with the continuous development needed to keep pace digitally.
16 November 2021

Then-mayor of London Boris Johnson (C) attends an event promoting the London tech industry in 2015.The industry could be in dire straits if the pressing skills shortage is not addressed before it is too late. (Photo by Andrew Burton / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The demand for the sort of digital skills needed across many fast-growing verticals today, from automation to artificial intelligence (AI), is strong. That’s almost as strong as the severity of the digital skills shortage that is currently inflicting the UK, where the number of young people pursuing IT subjects at the IGCSE level has dropped by 40% since 2015.

Both before and because of the pandemic, a great many businesses are working on digital transformation plans that will bring their companies up-to-speed in this swiftly changing environment. And the pandemic only exacerbated the need for digital upskilling, as organizations looked into digitalizing entire swaths of operations that used to be physical and offline in the past.

Recognizing this digital migratory pattern, even tech companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Google are looking to do their bit to provide digital learning incentives for interested parties to explore reskilling themselves for AI job openings, for example, or learning entirely new cloud skills to be better equipped as companies embrace cloud services on a wider scale than ever before.

The UK has always been a hub for innovation and technological advancement. Investments in UK startups have soared to £13.5bn in the first six months of 2021. Hires have increased across the country, with technology now accounting for 13% of all vacancies.

However, the industry still faces a shortfall of over 100,000 skilled specialists, and things aren’t looking too optimistic for the UK’s tech firms at the moment. Indeed, the UK tech job market has been on the decline every year since 2014.

The shortage of cybersecurity professionals, for instance, is at its highest point ever in the UK, with numbers jumping by more than a third (37.9%) this year to hit 115,000 unfilled roles. In fact, there is now a 34% rise in job vacancies compared to the previous year across all areas of cybersecurity. This signals a clear need for more professionals to be trained and employed as these roles come under increasing threat from cyberattacks.

Experts fear that left unchecked, the growing chasm in highly skilled talents to fill these opportunities may lead to the UK facing a challenging post-pandemic recovery, and may see the country falling off the pace to competing markets. The think-tank NESTA thinks that if not addressed, the digital skills gap will cost the UK economy upwards of £2 billion annually.

The problem is that technology and its applications will continue to progress, presenting both a problem for those struggling to keep up, and a solution for those willing to innovate. Countless courses and academies now exist for vocational training in any number of disciplines — but when it comes to the digital skillset, the trend is towards reskilling or upskilling individuals to be equipped to tackle this sifting environment. 

How enablement programs can make the difference

Unlike classical learning academies, enablement programs might be the thing to help manage the flow of skills needed along with the skills available, and provide a steady stream of qualified recruits. Enablement programs do this by focusing on continuous personal development, training, and recruitment — all within one evolving component that prioritizes speedy transmission of quality, tailored training.

Enablement programs offer end-to-end solutions including assessment and filtering components alongside the prerequisite training, helping to track the evolution of the employee’s development. This sort of continuous monitoring and adjusting with personalized redirection helps to ensure that trainees are up to the tasks expected of them, with many enablement programs allowing for trainees to track their own personalized development.

And with such strong demand for trained, skilled teams all over the world, global enablement programs are becoming increasingly integral to train international teams. For instance, particular specialized technical talent that was not previously available in a particular market can be introduced. 

By providing these lacking skill sets, businesses are better empowered to build long-term, sustainable talent pipelines with a diverse roster of talent — as only fundamental requirements of skills are asked for, alongside a willingness to learn and a growth mindset.

In the end, an agile workforce with the capacity to continuously upskill and add to their coterie of abilities, will become the de facto need in the evermore digital world. And this is where flexible global enablement programs can truly prove their worth in training up highly specialized talent in current and emerging software — resulting in highly-trained, multi-skilled employees that can be fast-tracked to fill IT roles that are facing a shortfall.