Employees of all ages are driving digital skills

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25 September 2015 | 0

According to a new survey by VMware, the digital skills that drive business are not just confined to millennials, or the so-called ‘Generation Z’, but rather are more evenly distributed across the generations in the workplace.

The survey of more than 7,500 businesses across the EMEA region found that digital skills are a priority for all employees – impacting both their own career development and the broader business.

According to the survey, the recognised benefits of the widespread use of digital skills include improving the competitive edge of an organisation (75%) and increasing revenue/profitability for the business over the next five years (69%). Furthermore, 73% of employees believe it enables greater collaboration between colleagues.

The survey report concludes the nearly two thirds (61%) of employees who are willing to use their own time to learn new digital skills and ways of working shows recognition of the value role digital skills. Furthermore, older generations of the workforce are actively pursuing more technical digital skills, with more than a third (35%) of 45-54 year olds and nearly a quarter (23%) of 55 years and over, respectively, seeking advice or training on designing and building mobile applications. Nearly half (47%) of 45 – 54 year olds are doing the same for coding and creating online content.

Despite this recognition by employees, says the survey report, only half (50%) of the workforce believe they are able to fully use their digital skills within their organisations. Barriers to realising employees’ full digital skills appear to be for a complex variety of reasons, including: ‘digital’ not being integrated into personal objectives (60%), lack of budget (44%), lack of adequate support from IT (41%) and company policies being too restrictive (40%).

“Profoundly changing skillsets in today’s digital age are transforming the way businesses are run, impacting how strategy, direction and decisions themselves are formulated,” said Matt Crosby, head of expertise, UK and Ireland at global management consulting firm Hay Group. “The challenge, and opportunity will be in aligning senior teams with years of experience of running businesses in a pre-digital age with younger talent who bring new expertise, expectations and motivations. Each company must work hard to find a system that brings this multi-generational workforce together, doing some of the ‘old’ things well, such as measuring accountability, performance and outcomes, whilst also making sure that ideas and new ways of working  flourish.”

Despite digital skills being a priority across all age groups, 42% of respondents aged 18-24 believe that senior management does not understand the business’ technology infrastructure enough to support their digital skills within the workplace. This was the highest percentage across any age group (30% of respondents aged over 55 believed this), implying, says the survey report, that there is a possible disconnect between those entering the workforce and senior management.

In addition, respondents identified more investment in formal training to further develop digital skills (56%), better recognition for using digital skills (44%) and the development of a culture that better embraces digital skills (47%) as priority areas to focus on.

“Successful digital transformation in today’s business world is shaped by culture, people and capabilities,” said Joe Baguley, vice president and chief technology officer, VMware EMEA, “… enterprises are rightly investing heavily in ‘digital’ talent as they look to harness the key skills and capabilities that can help organisations innovate faster and fully engage customers – both of which impact an organisation’s bottom line.”


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