Back in 2019 we discussed the digital skills gap, what it is and what needs to be done to address it. We still stand by the fact that flexible working opens doors to many more talented people able to plug this gap. But what else have we learned?
Since we discussed the matter much more research has been carried out by organisations such as The Tech Talent Charter, McKinsey, World Economic Forum, Deloitte and more – find a list of all the reports we think you’ll want to read at the end of this post.
So here are a few stats to get you warmed up
- According to recent analysis from BCS: the Chartered Institute of IT, in the last quarter of 2020 women made up only 19% of the UK IT industry.
- Flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities (Timewise).
- Further research by the Gender and Behavioural Insight Team found that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applicants and boosted applications from women by 16%.
- In a survey of working women by the Tech Talent Charter, more than half of respondents were open to a career in tech, subject to being able to obtain the relevant knowledge and skills.
- BAME IT professionals are less likely to be in positions of responsibility than those of white ethnicity – despite on the whole being better qualified, a new study has found (Chartered Institute for IT, 2020).
- 91% of UK employers struggled to find workers with the right skills over the last year (Deloitte, BITC 2020).
- The percentage of organisations scaling automations was found to have doubled in the last year, making concerns surrounding re-skilling even more prevalent (Deloitte, BITC 2020).
- Only 1 in 7 workers in roles at high risk of automation received training in the last year.
- 8 to 9 percent of 2030 labour demand will be in new types of occupations that have not existed before (McKinsey 2017).
- Forty-three percent of businesses surveyed indicate that they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41% plan to expand their use of contractors for task specialised work, and 34% plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration (WEF, 2020).
- It is estimated that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms (World Economic Forum, 2020).
- On average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require re-skilling of six months or less and 94% of business leaders report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, a sharp uptake from 65% in 2018 (World Economic Forum, 2020).
So what does this mean for the future of work?
To try and condense a multifactorial concept of ‘The Future Of Work’ into a short paragraph is difficult but here goes. The way we work has and will continue to change. Automation will see mass job loss but also create millions of jobs too. Eight to nine percent of labour demand in 2030 will be in roles that do not exist today. It is clear that education and re-skilling are key to navigating this huge change. Without the investment it needs we could see huge unemployment. Yet in parallel there will be large volumes of vacant roles requiring skills few people have learned.
So what next?
With epic amounts of data to support what the future of work looks like. We know that these issues need addressing now. Our current workforce, especially those who are more likely to suffer job loss as a result of automation need to be re-skilled in skills for the future. Ideally this needs to be done whilst employees are still in employment. Tackling the issue once these people have lost their jobs will be more difficult as the urgency to find paid employment may negate the desire to change careers or study.
Our children are the workforce of the future and the national curriculum should reflect this. Research needs to be done on how we teach children the in demand skills of the future.
A report by Deloitte and BITC highlight the case for change saying
- investment in reskilling by organisations appears to be lacking
- employees most at risk of automation are not spending time reskilling.
- and it is getting harder for organisations to hire the skills they need externally.
Who should we re-skill?
It comes as no surprise that the technology industry is lacking diversity on all levels. According to recent analysis from BCS: the Chartered Institute of IT, in the last quarter of 2020 women made up only 19% of the UK IT industry. Research commissioned by the Fawcett Society revealed that 1 in 3 working mothers lost work or hours due to childcare needs, that women were more likely than men to lose work or be burdened with childcare during the crisis, and that ethnic minority women were more likely to have concerns about losing their jobs.
You only need to look at a handful of reports over the last couple of years to see the lack of diversity.
The Tech Talent Charter surveyed working women to see what would persuade them to consider a career in tech. More than 50 percent of respondents were open to a career in tech, providing they could access the relevant knowledge and skills.
Then we need to consider those more likely to lose their jobs as a result of automation. Those in industries such as retail, manufacturing and hospitality (McKinsey, 2020).
When should we re-skill?
Time is of the essence. With Covid potentially accelerating the automation curve we need to act now. We need to avoid the costs of job loss and a prolonged, expensive recruitment process. Not to mention trying to recruit people with skills that very few have trained to do.
We need to invest in reskilling our workforce now. It makes good business sense. Make the most of your employees now. Take the employees whose roles may be at risk from automation and ask them if they would be interested in retraining. Models for retraining and redeployment need to start now.
How are flexible working, diversity and inclusion and the digital skills gap linked?
Our own research has shown the diversity in our own audience seeking flexible working. This is backed by Timewise who say “flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities.”. But until flexible working is more widely accepted and valued by organisations these people, talented and brimming with potential will be unable to access the careers they desire.
Research by the Gender and Behavioural Insight Team found that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applicants and boosted applications from women by 16%. Whilst this is great news that highlights the value of flexible working, much is still to be done to ensure that flexibility offerings are not just a tick box exercise. Something our team at Find Your Flex takes very seriously.
Open up a discussion on how, where and when is the best way to do a job and you will attract more talented and diverse people into roles. The technology industry needs to be as diverse as the people it serves. There is a whole group of diverse people out there eager for a career, they just require the flexibility to access it. This untapped group of talented people could be the part of the answer to the digital skills gap.
How will Find Your Flex address the digital skills gap?
We have exciting plans for 2021 – 2022 and have something up our sleeves that we think could not only address the issue of re-skilling but also provide a green solution too. We can’t say too much now but watch this space. We’ve also just joined The Tech Talent Charter as one of their signatories. Read more about the great work they are doing here.
A list of interesting reading on the future of work, diversity in technology and responsible automation
- Tech Talent Charter – Diversity In Tech 2020
- Tech Nation – Skills and Jobs Report
- McKinsey – Future of Work
- Deloitte & BITC – Guide to Responsible Automation
- World Economic Forum – The Future Of Jobs Report 2020
- British Science Association & APPG on Diversity and Inclusion In STEM
- BCS, Chartered Institute for IT – BAME IT workers better qualified but less likely to be in top jobs.
- Inclusive Boards – Challenging Perspectives Socioeconomic Background In The UK Tech Sector