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Mind the digital talent gap

Over 55 per cent of staff said they would move to another organisation that offers better skills development if they felt their digital skills were stagnating at their current employer.

Over 55 per cent of staff said they would move to another organisation that offers better skills development if they felt their digital skills were stagnating at their current employer.

Some companies say their organisation’s digital talent is strong, or not. But what is their definition of digital talent? It is not easy to define in a few words. My view is that it is neither skills in using Facebook or Twitter nor digital mastery or being a tech geek. Such staff are acting digitally but not necessarily with digital talent.

Digitally talented people are those who think digital, those who use digital technology to add value to their organisation through a change in approach, efficiency, effectiveness, competitiveness and cost, or perhaps in a social context, those who improve their well-being by using digital means. Talent is a natural aptitude or skill.

Most organisations know about the digital talent gap, and the importance of minimising it for their organisation. An interesting report issued by Capgemini, in collaboration with Linkedin, identifying a number of key indicators regarding digital talent, lately made it to my desk. The report was based on a survey of over 1,250 people who are either employees, leaders in their field or talent executives in digital recruitment.

Most of the survey respondents acknowledged that the digital talent gap is widening. This has also come up in local studies. Over 54 per cent of the organisations agreed that the lack of digital talent was hampering their digital transformation, and that their organisations had lost competitive advantage. The talent gap is more pronounced in soft digital skills (e.g. thinking digitally, having passion for learning, being customer-centric) than those that are hardcore (e.g. data analytics, cloud computing, cybersecurity). Soft digital skills constitute a ‘digital-first mindset’.

The challenges of attracting, developing and retaining digital talent will be crucial

Many employees today are anxious and worried that their skills are already not in line with current and future needs, or that their skillset will become so in the next two years. Many employees feel their companies are not organising enough training for their digital skills development. These companies are not looking beyond their organisation. People want to develop themselves for their career, and not just for their organisation. Because of this, over 60 per cent of the respondents are investing their own time and money to remain competitive on the required digital skills.

Over 55 per cent of respondents said they would move to another organisation that offers better skills development if they felt their digital skills were stagnating at their current employer.

It is widely accepted that those organisations that manage to bridge the digital talent gap will be those that will lead and have a competitive edge over others. The Capgemini report matches the eSkills Malta Foundation’s recommendations following the ICT skills audit that it carried out last year.

The challenges of attracting, developing and retaining digital talent will be crucial. We need to fulfil both employees’ career ambitions as well as employers’ skills needs. The ICT labour market needs to be socially, professionally and technically equipped, while the local ICT profession should be further developed to be aligned with the European Framework of IT Professionalism.

Every actor in the ICT industry needs to do their part and look beyond their primary objectives, and their secondary objectives may become just as important.

Carm Cachia is executive coordinator, eSkills Malta Foundation.

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