Although much has been written about businesses and how their reliance on digital skills is set to grow over the next few years, the UK’s job market is still struggling to find a solution for the ongoing digital skills crisis. Digital transformation amid pandemic in the last two years has not only driven demand for IT skills but has also left non-IT professionals crippled to cope with digital tools.
To put things in perspective, a recent survey published by the UK government, UK businesses are struggling to cope with an acute digital skills gap. The study found that 14.1% of businesses in the digital, culture, media and sports (DCMS) sectors are reporting a shortage of digitally skilled workforce. It doesn’t stop there – even technical businesses are facing this challenge. According to IET’s Skills and Demand in Industry Report 2021, around 71% of engineering employers in the UK believe their organisation is experiencing an internal skills gap due to missing engineering or technical skills amongst its employees.
This brings to light the need for employees to constantly update their existing digital skills, which on an average is estimated to keep you employable about five years.
This doesn’t necessarily mean bringing in new talent and neglecting the potential of existing employees. Rather, organisations should view this as an opportunity to provide existing employees with access to training and development programs to help improve their employability skills over time.
Adopting a digital mindset to drive business transformation
Digital transformation is on every business leader’s priority list and has likely shot to the top as a result of the pandemic. While it’s commendable to give employees access to the right tools to allow for faster and smarter work, too much emphasis is often put on the digital part of the equation and not enough on the transformation part. Digital transformation projects that fail aren’t usually due to poor technology and/or a lack of appetite among workers. They usually fail because businesses don’t invest in teaching their people new skills, leaving them with advanced technology that they can’t use.
The most brilliant technology is irrelevant if the users aren’t skilled enough to use it. Training employees to use innovative tools and services will empower them and help them develop new working habits. In some cases, employees may even uncover ingenious ways to use these tools and create a new, valuable use case that will speed up work and improve collaboration. If that isn’t the definition of a “win-win” scenario, it should be!
Whether an organisation is looking to digitally innovate by adopting new practices or enhance its existing business operations, it must ensure that digital mindset is at the heart of everything it does. By embracing a digital mindset, companies can train their employees from a non-tech background to collaborate with skilled IT professionals. This involves training existing staff to use IT approved platforms such as low-code to develop business applications instead of turning to shadow IT.
Low-code software development platforms help businesses accelerate their digital transformation initiatives by enabling a larger workforce of citizen developers who do not have any tech background to collaborate with IT professionals and develop enterprise applications, thereby cutting the need for skilled IT staff for specific domain expertise. By adopting this approach towards software development, organisations are essentially empowering business users with tools and skills to create their own solutions.
This not only helps resolve the problem of not having enough software developer talent to fill in open positions but it can also bring about better collaboration between departments, which in turn improves the overall operational efficiency of the organisation.
Empowering the workforce with low-code
Armed with low-code tools, business users can now help organisations keep up with the growing demand for software application solutions as digital technologies continue to rapidly transform the business. This is mainly because low-code platforms allow organisations to digitise their processes and establish new ways to carry out day-to-day business operations at a much faster pace than traditional development.
It also allows business users to be more involved in the digital transformation projects. This is particularly important considering that there is a growing interest among modern employees to approach problems at work with data and a practical attitude in mind. Most employees now want to be involved in business operations that drive real business value, which in turn makes work more meaningful to them, and if they aren’t given this opportunity, they will go elsewhere.
With help of low-code platforms, businesses can now foster an environment that welcomes ideas from all employees, sending the powerful message that management is willing to partner with workers. Having the ability to build solutions via the application development platform also means that business users now have a bigger say on where or when digitisation can essentially help the business.
Low-code also allows IT teams to become more productive and efficient as it eliminates the need for them to be involved in smaller app development tasks. Functionality wise, users generally do not require extensive expertise in coding to run or create applications on these platforms as it mostly uses a visual interface which allows you to drag and drop components when building apps or solutions. This reduces the burden on IT departments, thereby allowing them to focus on more complex projects.
Through citizen development, organisations can now undertake business transformation initiatives without adding additional pressure on their existing IT teams, which leads to higher employee satisfaction for both tech and non-tech teams. By providing access to low-code tools, companies can also empower their workers to build applications and software which are actually useful for their everyday jobs. This is one of the most effective ways to ensure talent retention in a world where being part of something big and meaningful at work is becoming more important than just compensation.
Leveraging tools such as low-code to reskill and upskill existing talent is both an opportunity for the companies to close the digital skills gap both in short and long term.
By Lara Pyko, Chief People Officer at Mendix