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Employers in denial over success of digital skills training, say exasperated staffers

Large disparities in views from bosses vs workers on 'talent transformation initiatives,' says survey

Digital transformation projects are being held back by a lack of skills, according to a new survey, which finds that while many employers believe they are doing well at training up existing staff to meet the requirements, their employees beg to differ.

Skills shortages are nothing new, but the Talent Transformation Global Impact report from research firm Ipsos on behalf of online learning provider Udacity indicates that although digital transformation initiatives are stalling due to a lack of digital talent, enterprises are becoming increasingly out of touch with what their employees need to fill the skills gap.

The report is the result of two surveys taking in over 2,000 managers and more than 4,000 employees across the US, UK, France, and Germany. It found that 59 per cent of employers state that not having enough skilled employees is having a major or moderate impact on their business.

Over half of the organisations surveyed (56 per cent) agreed they were having difficulty hiring new employees with the level of experience needed for their digital transformation strategies. Not surprisingly, developing the skills of employees – or "talent transformation initiatives" as the report puts it - is therefore seen as a priority by the majority of enterprises.

But the report found there were conflicting notions regarding the success of current learning and development programmes between the companies and employees.

Although four in five employers that offer development programmes classified these as being at least moderately successful, only 45 per cent of employees said they found the programmes satisfactory.

And while 65 per cent of employers agreed with the statement that their organisation prioritises the development of employee skills, only 41 per cent of employees agreed.

This trend held across all areas where the survey asked both employers and employees their view of their company's priorities, from being agile and adapting quickly, to attracting and retaining employees, to staying current with new trends and/or technologies.

In each category there was at least a 10 per cent difference in the employer's perception versus that of employees, and in some cases more than a 20 per cent difference.

According to the report's authors, the research suggests that companies worldwide are making bold claims regarding their priorities with regards to training and digital transformation, but their employees see things differently. The report states that this mismatch of opinions is a call to action for real change within enterprises.

"This a wake-up call for enterprises to invest in talent transformation or risk falling behind," Ipsos senior veep Christopher Moessner said in a statement.

He added that such a move would be a "win-win" situation for employees who desire the most in-demand tech roles, but also for employers that are not able to hire the right people to meet current and future demand.

The report shows that the pandemic has inevitably had an impact on digital transformation programmes, according to 69 per cent of organisations polled. 52 per cent indicated that important projects have been delayed or are at risk due to employee skill gaps, while half of employers claimed that digital transformation progress is being held back by a lack of employee adoption or engagement.

Most employees believe that employers should invest in their future by providing skills training, and younger employees have higher expectations, according to the report. In Germany, 69 per cent of employees aged 18 to 29 agreed with this, while in the UK, the age category agreeing most was those aged 30 to 49, at 65 per cent.

Perhaps the lesson for employers is that there needs to be greater consultation with workers regarding what kind of training is required to address their digital skills gap. But perhaps they shouldn't ask for feedback unless they welcome criticism. ®

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