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Digital opportunities and key role-players

By , Area Vice President at Salesforce Africa & MED
Africa , 21 Oct 2021
Richard Chambers, Area Vice President, Africa & MED, Salesforce.
Richard Chambers, Area Vice President, Africa & MED, Salesforce.

The rapid emergence of technologies such as blockchain, AI and the cloud has meant that requirements for digital skills have been embedded into many of the world’s jobs for years. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only dramatically changed the way we live and work, increasing our reliance on digital technologies, but exacerbated the demand for digitally savvy current and prospective talent.

However, no one company, government or institution can solve a challenge of this scale alone — it will require true partnership. It is the role of all stakeholders - government, business and education - to make an impact.

This trend looks set to continue. Globally,cloud-related technologies will account for 27% of digital transformation IT spending this year, growing to 37% in 2026, as businesses focus on establishing their digital HQs to deliver customer and employee success from anywhere.

Our new digital world revolves around everyone having the skills to participate. Immediate and sustained investment in digital skills is therefore imperative to our global economic recovery from the pandemic and to the resilient, long-term growth that must follow it. A recent Accenture study has estimated that by 2028, the G20 countries could miss out on US$11.5-trillion of cumulative GDP growth if the growing digital skills gap is not addressed.

The pandemic has presented us with a unique opportunity to rethink digital education and deliver an exciting evolution of business and society that ensures growth, innovation, and happiness in equal measure. To make this happen, academic institutions and business have an important role to play together in cultivating a culture of continual learning and providing digital opportunities for all.

Learning from anywhere

Even before the pandemic, the impact of digital transformation on civic spaces and the world of work had resulted in a major disconnect between education systems and the needs of global economies and societies. In many regions the disparity in the courses that institutions offer and the needs of the future workforce is growing, rather than closing.

With good reason, academic institutions and programmes have encouraged the building of careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Increasingly, access to relevant technologies and development of digital competences will be essential to delivering high-quality education and training, both for life and the workplace.

The pandemic may not have created new reasons for academic institutions to change how they do business but it has rapidly accelerated the process. Post-pandemic, we can expect to see more institutions become more digitally flexible, offer students more online services, and develop greater career preparation. Particularly in places where large numbers of students work full- or part-time as they learn, there is value in providing hybrid learning courses to ensure convenience.

Preparing the workforce for the jobs of the future

Just like academic institutions, the workplace is not going back to the way it was before the pandemic. Our new digital world presents a major opportunity for companies to rethink what agile teams look like. By building tailored training programmes based not on what they think workers should know but on what workers actually want, and need to know, companies can create a flexible working culture that empowers all employees to connect, learn and progress from anywhere.

Addressing the digital skills gap is vital to increasing business competitiveness, employee performance and satisfaction, and customer experience. 

By promoting tech careers as a platform for fair progression, executing far-reaching programmes that break down barriers to reskilling, and resetting recruitment to focus less on traditional education and more on skills, businesses can open up digital roles to a wider, more diverse talent pool and deliver a more positive socio-economic impact.

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