Technology’s domination of the working world is all but complete. Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed the number of people working in the IT industry has soared by 20 per cent in the last five years.
And it is no surprise that the local tech industry recently made to the global headlines with the Australian Government proposing various changes to the 457 visa program. Given the high number of senior IT employees that are recruited from overseas, many companies fear that these changes would only serve to widen the digital skills gap within Australia.
Due to the ever changing world of technology, employees cannot solely rely on the skills they initially acquired when first starting out. The constant refreshing of knowledge is crucial and IT professionals are always on the lookout to upskill.
With software now as the backbone of almost every company it is vital that workers understand its mechanics. For instance, a recent report from job search website Indeed identified the need for 11,000 cyber security specialists within the next decade to fight the growing threat. This means that there is huge demand for advanced IT skills across a whole plethora of industries, particularly in light of the recent high-profile ransomware attacks such as WannaCry and NotPetya, which crippled organisations across the world.
Meanwhile, ABS data highlighted that ICT security specialist and ICT manager roles were up 50 percent and 89 percent from 2011 respectively, demonstrating that companies are looking to source new employees in this field. According to the annual Australia’s Digital Pulse, a study from Deloitte Access Economics and The Australian Computer Society, by 2022 the sector will have created an additional 81,000 jobs. The concern is that currently only 3,000 to 4,000 students graduate from ICT courses a year; which means there won’t be enough qualified people to take these jobs.
With this in mind, a way to bridge the digital skills gap may lie in upskilling the workers you already have in your team. This has more benefits than simply refining the skills of employees; investment in staff will inevitably boost their worth, strengthening employee satisfaction and morale, and helping your company go from strength to strength.
First step in order for this to happen is to go through a major internal cultural shift. Companies willing to succeed need to embrace change, focus their time and efforts on existing talent pools and actively encourage personal development.
One of the biggest challenges companies have is to find spare hours in the day for their staff to partake in training sessions. This is where technology learning platforms can help with a plethora of courses available online. Mobile is transforming how we work so it makes sense for it to enhance how we learn. Online courses enable staff to improve their skills ‘on the go’, perfect for the ‘time poor’ millennial. Information is easily digestible and the learning can be tailored to the individual, ensuring that they get maximum value out of the tutorial.
The flexibility of on-demand online tutorials also ensures that skills can be applied at the point of need, rather than staff having to wait to attend a course. People can learn what they want, when they want. Pass the power to the employee, giving them a sense of personal motivation in the process. This will also mean they can instantly apply their new found knowledge to the task in hand.
From software development, cloud, mobile, design right through to cyber security, there are a whole range of courses on offer at the employees’ fingertips. It’s crucial for companies to evaluate their need and think ‘outside the box’ to find solutions to upskill their staff in order to meet the demand of the market. Technology will keep getting bigger, so it’s time to prepare for a long-term journey when it comes to having the specialised talents on board.
About the author
Fiona Sweeney is the ANZ Director for Pluralsight, a global collaborative learning platform for professional software developers, IT specialists, and creative technologists.