The Italian presidency of the Group of 20 major industrial nations has announced its agenda of global objectives ahead of the G20 meeting in Rome this September. This includes “working to bridge the digital divide and make digitalization a possibility for all, enhance productivity, and, in short, to leave no one behind.”
For the past four years, a G20 Digital Economy Task Force has been developing proposals to allow digital transformation in order to boost economic and social progress. Achieving such development would necessitate tackling a critical component of the digital divide: enhancing digital training and reducing the skills gap that is stifling too many sectors of the global economy.
The pandemic effect
The COVID-19 epidemic has exacerbated the impact of this digital skills gap, forcing broad segments of society to shift to remote working, embrace e-medicine, and adapt to distant learning.
As a result, if the digital skills gap is not addressed, the economy faces a significant economic blow. Accenture states in a new research on accelerated skill development, “If skill-building does not keep pace with the rate of technology innovation, the G20 economies might lose up to $11.5 trillion in cumulative GDP growth over the next ten years.” That is comparable to subtracting more than a full percentage point from the average yearly growth rate throughout that time period.”
As commercial activity resumes – with consumer spending recovering in areas like hospitality and travel, and as wage earners return to their jobs – it is obvious that many people will continue to utilize digital apps for various forms of social and economic involvement.
However, the rate of recovery, as well as who benefits from it, is likely to widen the digital divide. This is much more than just knowing how to operate a smartphone or maintain a social media presence. It is all about being able to participate in and prosper in the digital economy. This involves, for example, the knowledge and skill to code, as well as the capacity to efficiently acquire and analyze data and manage client interactions via the cloud. To put it another way, to be productive and innovative in the workplace and online – from anywhere.
This is about more than just digital literacy. It is about being able to participate in and thrive in the digital economy.
Upskilling for the Digital Age
Employers and employees both benefit from improved digital skills. Both will face a skills gap in the coming years, as Salesforce recently examined in a joint study with RAND Europe on the global digital skills challenge. According to the study, technology design and programming are among the top ten skills that will be required by 2025, along with social influence, leadership, creativity, resilience, and active learning.
Leading economies are already discovering that digital skills are required to fill vacancies with appropriately qualified workers. To reap the full benefits of digital transformation, non-technical roles such as sales, customer relationship management, marketing, finance, and human resources will require digital upskilling and proficiency.
At the start of 2021, there were over 300,000 job advertisements for digital skills in customer relationship management roles in the United Kingdom, for example. However, there is a considerable gap between the need for digital skills and their availability — fewer than half (48%) of UK businesses feel that young people leave full-time school with appropriate digital abilities.
Core digital skills are a gateway to a wide range of jobs, and they will soon be as important as reading and writing. This is especially true in a world where digitized products and services are expected to drive nearly two-thirds of global GDP next year. Core digital skills are a gateway to a wide range of jobs, and they will soon be as important as reading and writing.
Bridging the skills gap
There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but government engagement will be critical in closing the skills gap. Governments are expected to be pushed to cooperate more closely with industry to prioritize digital skills during the G20 meeting in Rome. Employers are required to do everything necessary to assist their employees (both existing and prospective) in learning new skills, such as offering free, hands-on training and courses.
Salesforce has accomplished this by creating Trailhead, our online learning platform. It may take participants from having no technical expertise to having a Salesforce position in as little as six months. Participants may show their skills to current and potential employers by collecting certifications along the route. Other companies, including Google and Barclays, have made investments in providing free online learning opportunities.
Businesses must continuously update their hiring practices, putting less emphasis on conventional schooling and more emphasis on computer abilities. It is also critical that firms continuously update their hiring practices, focusing less on conventional schooling and more on the tech skills that employees currently have or are aspiring for. As a result, digital positions will be available to a larger and more varied talent pool.
In August 2021, G20 digital ministers made an important step forward by signing a Declaration outlining 12 actions to accelerate the digital transition. This sets the door for heads of state to support more digitalization later this year in Rome. We hope they will seize this opportunity to take urgent, concerted action to address the digital skills gap and guarantee that no one is left behind.