What Is Digital Skills Gap And Its Impact On Manufacturing Business

Digital literacy or digital skills refer to the ability to evaluate, utilize, find, share and create content using digital technology, including tablets and smartphones, computers and computer applications, websites and other online platforms, and much, much more. Digital skills are not just about knowing how to use certain technologies or tools but learning to harness them to enhance your learning and success. The competition to compete in the digital marketplace continues, as all companies are becoming tech companies. And that's the reason why we are rapidly shifting towards an economy in which every employee needs a variety of modern skills. Being tech-and data-literate is an integral part of the job description for everyone, from entry-level hires to the C-suite.

The digital skills gap refers to the lack of properly trained candidates to fill necessary posts in business and a lack of digital skills in existing workforces. The issue of the digital skills gap is a talk in countries around the world and it seems to be a serious thing. Two main factors that affect different economies and sectors in different proportions are - the lack of digital skills amongst existing workforces and the lack of properly trained candidates to fill digital posts in growing technological industries. Well, both of these factors can massively restrain the growth of whole economies and individual businesses. The digital technologies, that will make the businesses more effective, are unable to be adopted by many established, large businesses with large workforces made up of highly skilled workers. Many companies are not thinking about how digital talent can help them to expand and improve their services on a larger scale. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the skills gap across all industries are on the verge to grow. The nature of the jobs that need to be done and the skills needed to do them - faster than ever before, are being changed with rapid advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies. The companies need to nurture the digital skills of existing staff and promote the growth of skills from within and also provide training.

Digital Skills Gap 2019

How do we overcome such an enormous challenge? The companies must invest more in enabling their workforce to reskill to address the problem. A holistic solution is required that prioritizes new approaches to skills development in previously untapped talent pools and within an existing workforce. Upskilling an already trained workforce to be able to work with or even develop digital products can be a huge challenge. However, the companies that fail to meet up this challenge are superseded by new companies unburdened by a workforce lacking these digital skills or by those companies that fulfill this challenge. The available digital products and services can be used by companies that promptly and efficiently train their workforce to be an expert in relevant digital skills to improve their products and services and provide them with more competitive rates. An opportunity arises in bridging their own skills gap for individuals and adding a digital qualification to your resume can turn a career jump into a career leap. The problem of the digital skills gap can eventually be resolved through the movement of workers, training, and competition.

Although there is a belief that implementing development programmes will help in preparing for future innovations or disruptions, many businesses have been slow to do so. The reason behind this could be that they are held back by lack of employee time in training, budgetary constraints, and lack of appropriate training technology. Businesses that don't take steps now to deal with the problem will be left behind, as the skills gap widens. The companies can build up their courseware for upskilling and reskilling employees. Businesses can tap into a huge pool of high-potential and underutilized talent, by hiring people from diverse backgrounds. Apart from adopting more inclusive hiring practices, businesses also need to think about how they could provide training.

When building a more diverse workforce, apprenticeships providing in-house training programmes, practical on-the-job training, for non-college educated entry-level employees, and partnerships with external workforce development agencies, all play a vital role. To boost the chances of retaining and attracting talent, businesses must aim to become an "employer of choice". Providing opportunities for ongoing personal development, best-practice recruitment and community service also go a long way towards retaining and attracting top talent. Businesses will be well-positioned to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by making reskilling, employee retention priorities, upskilling, and freeing up resources needed to build a continuous learning culture.

Digital Skills Gap In Manufacturing

As per study that has been tracking the digital skills gap for almost two decades, manufacturing has a shortage of skilled workers and every year it's expected to grow to about 2.2 million unfilled jobs over the next decade. The worker deficit, today, has started hitting companies during the first quarter of 2019, as more than 25% of manufacturers had to shut down new business opportunities due to lack of workers. The reason cited for the lack of workers was the gap in fundamental skills.  The digital skills - computer and programming skills for automation, critical thinking abilities, and working with tools and technology, driven largely by the trends towards the incorporation of advanced technology linked with digital transformation are the most in demand skill sets witnessed by manufacturers in the next three years.

The employees will also need digital skills to effectively use online collaboration systems like employment-based social media and instant messaging along with other advanced assistance tools like augmented reality vision and voice assistants that enable real-time visual overlays of relevant data on the production floor or in the field. Apart from this, there is also the issue of stability. Now, the focus of many companies is training workers in new technologies. To help companies onboard and train workers, few firms are using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These particular technologies enable knowledge to be transferred and captured in new and efficient ways.

Another form of technology that transfers organizational expertise directly to a technician while on the job, is wearables. Simulating outcomes is another training method to bridge the skill gap, in addition to these technologies. It's an excellent tool to provide and refresh new skill sets. Employees are learning problem-solving skills by simulating scenarios that will arise. Moreover, this system can be used to access the skill level of incoming employees. This would provide a better match of people to specific jobs and learn what gaps exist and then provide training to overcome those gaps.

The companies are investing heavily in apprenticeship programs as a tool to teach the skills needed in digitized manufacturing, and also are investing in on-site technology to provide training. Improving training and apprenticeship programs and reforming education will go a long way toward solving the skill gap.

Digital Transformation Skills Gap

With many skilled developers either starting their own companies or being drawn to the pace, excitement, and equity of working with innovative startups, many organizations are currently experiencing a skills shortage in this area. Many established industries are shaken up as a lack of digital expertise is a major barrier to innovation for organizations looking to begin their digital transformation journey. Businesses won't get the most from the technology they implement unless there's an appropriate workforce to support digital change. Several steps are needed by businesses to tackle the digital transformation skills gap. It is necessary to create a centralized team once a digital transformation initiative has been identified by the decision-makers of a business. Tasking and finding the right people that have the experience and skills to address both technical and organizational challenges is critical for success.

These businesses must look at how they can grab the attention of the right people with the right skills who can help them on their digital transformation journey. The businesses must also provide the right training to nurture the skills of their existing workforce. A huge role is played by technology in filling the skills gap and so organizations, individuals are no longer reliant on conventional sources of training. Instead of enrolling in-classroom courses, individuals can now sign up to online courses and access a free range of resources on these subjects. A culture of self-learning and providing incentives to individuals for acquiring these skills will provide enough drive to help close the skills gap and make employees feel more satisfied and motivated cost-effectively. The businesses will be able to look at the other factors key to the digital transformation such as shared goals, organizational alignment, and identifying high impact initiatives; with the right people, whether they are upskilled existing employees or they are new to the company.  Enterprises will be able to ensure that they can implement technology with maximum impact, by forming a centralized team to oversee the whole process, for a successful digital transformation.