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Majority of Irish workers not ready to operate in a digital-first world, says report

Salesforce’s Global Digital Skills Index reveals worsening crisis
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1 February 2022

More than two thirds (69%) of workers do not feel equipped to learn the digital skills needed by businesses now, and 76% do not feel equipped for the future. This is according to Salesforce’s latest Global Digital Skills Index, which revealed a growing global digital skills crisis.

With 23,500 global respondents in 19 countries, including 1,294 workers in Ireland, the index highlights worker readiness to acquire the key digital skills needed by business today and over the next five years.

Asked how they feel about the rate of technological change in the workplace, 34% of Irish workers reported feeling ‘overwhelmed’, while 25% said they were ‘fearful’. Despite these concerns, only 28% considered themselves very actively involved in digital skills learning and training programmes.

 

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The global digital skills gap is a concern, but it also presents an opportunity, the report said. With companies around the world rapidly transitioning to digital-first models, the demand for employees with digital skills has soared.

The Salesforce Index’s overall global score for digital readiness, assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access, and active participation in digital up-skilling, is currently only 33 out of 100, highlighting an urgent need for global investment to close the digital skills gap. Ireland scored a total of 28 out of 100.

The countries represented in the survey ranged from 63 to 15, highlighting that while certain countries feel more digitally ready than others, there is an urgent need for global investment to close the digital skills gap and build a more inclusive workforce.

Respondents in emerging nations India, Mexico and Brazil were more confident than those in developed nations about their digital future. India had the Index’s highest digital readiness score (63 out of 100), with 76% of respondents in India feeling equipped for a digital skills-led workplace and 69% actively learning new digital skills.

RAND Europe’s recent The Global Digital Skills Gap report indicated that certain countries will be more impacted by the digital skills gap than others, depending on their economic structure, industries and labour distribution. Concern of higher risk may be driving a bigger, faster commitment to digital education – India’s digital skills gap has the greatest GDP growth risk at an average of 2.3% every year, followed by Mexico at 1.8% GDP. The UK and Australia, on the other hand, sit at just 0.5%.  

Learning experiences

Everyday skills such as social media and web navigation do not necessarily translate to the core workplace digital skills needed by business to drive recovery, resilience and growth, Salesforce found.

More than two thirds of all global Gen Z respondents (64%) said they have ‘advanced’ social media skills, but less than a third (31%) believe they have the ‘advanced’ digital workplace skills needed by businesses today.

While most respondents in North America (83%), Europe (82%), and Asia-Pacific (70%) have ‘advanced’ or ‘intermediate’ social media skills, only a third in each (31%, 24%, and 34%, respectively) feel prepared for the workplace digital skills needed over the next five years.

According to 69% of Irish respondents, skills in collaboration technology such as Slack are viewed as the most important skills needed by businesses today and over the next five years. But despite respondents’ prowess with everyday collaboration technology like social media, only 26% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in those collaboration technology skills needed specifically for the workplace.

Over half of Irish respondents (53%) said they want to learn new skills to help them grow their career. By harnessing the potential of existing workforces, businesses can speed progress towards closing their skills gaps.

The Index also revealed that younger respondents have greater confidence and ambition to learn new skills – globally 83% of Gen Z respondents are ‘actively’ learning and training for skills needed over the next five years compared to 12% of Baby Boomers. Businesses have a major opportunity to nurture young talent by providing tailored, ‘always on’ training that will help drive growth and innovation, increase equity and engagement, and create strong leaders for the future.

“Reskilling is clearly a national priority and we all have a responsibility to help people navigate learning and equip them to seize the opportunities of a digital-first future,” said Zahra Bahrololoumi, UKI CEO, Salesforce. “By using our scale, ecosystem, and resources as a platform for change, we can provide alternative pathways to training, often free and online, to ensure that our increasingly connected world stands for success across all of society.” 

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