The adoption of digital technologies has taken centre stage for businesses looking to stay ahead of the changing landscape. In fact, 72 per cent of Australian businesses have digitised their offering since COVID-19, and 41 per cent of Australian SMEs bought or installed new software to support remote working. It’s therefore a necessity for technology skills to sit at the core of a business’ overall business strategy to thrive in a digitally-led world.
Companies that have not been able to maintain pace, particularly small businesses, have risked falling by the wayside. However, as a country Australia is currently experiencing a major technology skills shortage, which is only expected to grow unless businesses take the lead to counter the growing gap.
A recent report revealed Australia will require an additional 156,000 digital technology workers by 2025, which represents an estimated one in four jobs forecast to be created during that period. Against this backdrop, SME’s must determine how they will need to digitally transform and understand how best to empower their team to support, create and uphold their digital transformation.
One of the most common hurdles facing skills development programs is budgetary constraints and perceived value or return on investment. To stay ahead and overcome these hurdles, SME’s can follow three simple steps: identify the gaps, invest in your people and adopt long-term planning.
Identify the gaps
To be able to bridge the tech skills divide, small businesses must be able to pinpoint where they are falling short so they can take steps to address the problem. It is crucial for business owners to take the time to get to know the capabilities of their team and identify maturity of tech skills across the board.
Business leaders must ask themselves how ready and committed they are to making tech skills a core part of the business strategy. This allows companies to be more strategic in how they tackle internal skills gaps and prepare their teams for the next stage of the company’s development.
Invest in your people
The tech skills gap is a complex and ongoing issue, which SMEs and enterprises alike, time and time again fail to resolve because it’s being tackled with the wrong approach. These are often reactive, short-sighted with the one-off training sessions. To avoid this, businesses should be looking internally and providing employees with the tools to be able to become a long-term solution for the challenges they face. No one knows a business better than those who are living and breathing in the day-to-day operations.
By not tapping into this knowledge of the innermost functions of the business, managers are potentially missing out on crucial insights. Many businesses have found that employees, when given the opportunity to develop their skill set, become more engaged, motivated and innovative while also increasing workplace satisfaction rates.
With the rapid shift to flexible working, businesses were left scrambling to accommodate the evolving environment taking more of a ‘Band-Aid’ approach to their problems. While it may seem futile to plan long-term, particularly when the last year threw many plans awry, tech skills are only becoming more in demand, which is why it’s critical for businesses to be in the best position possible to handle unforeseen circumstances.
Your tech strategy is your business strategy and without it, businesses will lack the direction required to make the best decisions for their future.
While the future of work post-pandemic is still developing, integrated skills development tools will continue to pave the way forward for SMEs looking to maintain a competitive edge, increase productivity levels and reducing the potential damage of unforeseen circumstances by future-proofing the business.