Bridging the UK skills gap: A race with no end

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Written by Andrew Lawson, Executive Vice President and General Manager, UK at Salesforce

35% of the skills demanded for jobs across industries will change by 2020, according to the World Economic Forum.

At the same time, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution well underway – driven by rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and emerging technologies – the skills gap is at risk of widening even further.

This poses the UK with a challenge it must rise to. As jobs evolve, it’s vital that the British workforce has the necessary skills in place to take advantage of this technology – both at work and in other aspects of their lives. This requires a collective responsibility.

The race is on

Given the pace of technological advances, we are in a race with no end, and one we cannot afford to lose. While the Government certainly has a role to play in helping upskill the workforce, businesses have potentially one of the biggest roles of all – equipping its workforces with the right skills and opportunities to hone them.

Organisations are feeling the strain of keeping up with the demands of the digital world. To combat this, business leaders must work collectively to train people for jobs in the digital economy by investing in training and development. To make sure these are effective, employees must feel encouraged to get involved.

For example, at Salesforce we offer free skills training through Trailhead, an online learning tool that trains participants on Salesforce and other tech and business expertise. Since it was launched in 2014, users have earned more than 10 million badges and unlocked avenues for career growth in the process. Programmes like Trailhead are giving people the opportunity to arm themselves with highly sought-after skills. Those that are essential in driving the UK economy forwards.

Sustaining the education and training pipeline

The UK has some of the best universities in the world for research and the most innovative creative industries, but that doesn’t mean the average Briton has solid digital skills. It’s critical that the focus on skills gains momentum. Alongside government and businesses, the education sector has a role to play.
65% of today’s children will have jobs that haven’t been invented yet, according to the World Economic Forum. As such there needs to be a focus on improving the IT curriculum taught in schools, working closely with the Government to make the relevant progress.

At Salesforce, we encourage our senior teams to ‘adopt’ a local school to help with this. For example our UK team supports School 21, based in Stratford, with their STEM education programmes for the next generation of talent. In addition to upskilling the current workforce, these programmes are key to demonstrating the variety of opportunities in STEM to the next generation of talent and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.

Welcome digital skills with open arms

Businesses, education institutions and the Government all have a collective responsibility to support lifelong skill development.

Programmes and training that encourage open learning throughout your career and education are critical for supporting the continual education necessary to ensure everyone can feel prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

The bottom line is that for us close the digital skills gap in the UK, we need to take the skills gap seriously. It’s up to all of us to encourage new and existing workers to develop their skills, and ensure access to education and learning opportunities to create a culture of learning. Only by doing this, will we begin to bridge the gap.

originally posted here 

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