Talent scarcity and skills gaps around the world have been years in the making. And with the acceleration of digital transformation over the past two years and post-pandemic, the skills gap has only widened.
There’s been a shortfall in graduates in specialty fields, insufficient training and development efforts by employers, governments, and individuals as well as lacklustre incentives, image, and marketing efforts by many industry sectors.
Technology has not only changed how we live, but how we work. The future of work will continue to be driven by technological advancement and the need to innovate continuously.
The question is, how do we keep pace with this rapid change, constant digitalisation and perpetual transformation to ensure the skills gap remains, at best, minimal? The answer is empowering self-improvement and realising that ongoing learning and advancement is a lifelong journey, best achieved through collaboration, cooperation, and partnerships.
it’s a collective effort
Only with a collaborative, collective effort by all stakeholders in the world of work — employers, talent, unions, and governments — can we make any meaningful progress. For the future of work, a consistent focus, encouraging ongoing studies and upskilling in STEM, including retraining those whose skills are eroding daily in today’s rapidly evolving digital economy, is required.
One of the most promising outcomes from the Australian Government’s recent Jobs + Skills Summit was the spirit of cooperation and collaboration between the Government, employers, and unions. The Summit brought Australians together to agree on actions and initiatives designed to help build a bigger, better trained and more productive workforce, boost real wages and living standards, reduce barriers to employment and advancement and create more opportunities for more Australians.
There’s a series of actions and initiatives focused on closing the technology skills gap in Australia. These include fee-free TAFE places and a free national virtual work experience program, in partnership with the Tech Council of Australia, to build awareness of tech careers and support early stage-talent pathways for those who face heightened barriers to employment.
In addition, a Digital and Tech Skills Compact, with businesses and unions, is aimed to deliver ‘Digital Apprenticeships’ to support workers to earn while they learn in entry-level tech roles; digital traineeships in the Australian Public Service; a boost in quantum technology research and education; a boost for future technology jobs and training; and a review of STEM programs to encourage talent diversity into STEM careers. These actions and the 36 immediate initiatives will make a positive impact, yet what is important to remember is that businesses need to continue investing in their people. People need to feel empowered to continue upskilling
According to Randstad Sourceright’s 2022 Talent Trends research, reskilling the global workforce is a priority for employers everywhere.
- Nearly all (93%) of the 900 C-suite and human capital leaders surveyed said employers have a responsibility to provide reskilling opportunities to their employees.
- Three-quarters said training and developing their workforce is an effective way to combat the skills gap, but only 29% are investing in this area.
- And yet the vast majority of employees across Australia would take on career coaching (71%) and learning and development (L&D) opportunities (76%) if offered by their employers.
The message is clear - it’s up to individuals to take lifelong learning and development into their own hands to achieve their personal and professional aspirations.
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remember the jobs market is cyclical
With global economic headwinds approaching and rising inflation, we remain in a talent-short market with record-low unemployment and job seekers continue to have the power. Youth unemployment is significantly at a record-low rate of 7% (as of July 2022) — the lowest recorded rate since the data series began in 1978.
This is great news for young people as a tight labour market makes it easier for people with less experience and skills to find a job. Today's young job seekers are most likely finding themselves in roles previously reserved for more experienced applicants. They can demand what they want from employers when they want it.
But there's a word of caution — the jobs market is cyclical. It won't be long until the market shifts from a candidate-short market to a jobs fast market, giving power over to employers. Then, skills, knowledge, and experience will return as the key to landing the desired job in a hyper-competitive market.
after money, flexibility and purpose, people want to upskill
The Randstad Workmonitor found that almost two-thirds of Australians (64%) are open to new job opportunities. This is a reminder to employers of the importance of understanding what people want to both secure and retain top talent, as the same about of people say they would stay with their current employer if they are offered training and development opportunities.
Understanding employee mindsets and their evolving priorities and leveraging the power of financial and non-monetary incentives are essential to winning the loyalties of job seekers and employees alike.
Beyond articulating and embodying the meaning and purpose of work, employers need to leverage a range of incentives to compete for the best workers.
Randstad’s Workmonitor reveals job seekers are seeking everything from pay raises to skilling opportunities to job flexibility as incentives to join or stay with organisations. These are important because at a time of economic uncertainty, when inflation is rampant and people feel besieged by rising prices, better pay, benefits, and opportunities play an essential role in people’s career and life choices.
Yet business leaders need to closely track how practices in pay, benefits and other incentives are constantly shifting, as falling behind in today’s hyper-competitive market can result in losing top talent, delaying work getting done and losing out on growth and innovation.
make continuous learning take centre stage
According to Randstad's research, learning and development opportunities remain high on the agenda for three-quarters of Australians. When asked to rank the top three L&D preferences, career progression came first, followed by the development of technical skills needed for work and soft skills such as communication and leadership.
Yet in the last 12 months, only a fifth (20%) of Australians received increased training or development opportunities. Of those, workers aged 18-24 benefitted the most at 36% compared with only 11% of Baby Boomers, possibly because younger, more ambitious workers actively seek growth and development opportunities to advance their careers.
And therein is the key - do not sit around and wait to be handed learning and development opportunities on a silver platter. Coaching, upskilling, and reskilling will take centre stage for those wanting to reach their true potential. Be empowered, take the initiative, and seek out opportunities. And let your leaders know about your career and development goals.
Regardless of where in the world you work, how old you are, or the type of work you do, it’s essential to embark on a journey of continuous lifelong learning.
how can employers deliver?
Leaders who help employees better determine their professional and personal goals will nurture a more engaged and committed workforce, improve retention, and achieve higher productivity and innovation.
The overarching goal is to help people achieve happiness and fulfilment at work. And when talent scarcity is impeding so many employers, failing to meet the expectations of an enlightened workforce can be disastrous for organisations seeking the best people.
To enhance learning and development outcomes, employers might want to consider an enterprise-wide coaching offering or boost employee incentives to undertake learning opportunities tailored to each individual and aligned to what’s required for the future of work within the organisation.
If companies fail to prioritise their people, delivering coaching, training, learning and development resources and opportunities, hiring and retaining the best people will be a struggle. The result will be protracted time to hire, costly delays and insufficient and ineffective resourcing, causing flow-on effects damaging employer brands and the bottom line. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
For more advice on closing the gap between reality and the wishes of the Australian workforce, download the Randstad Workmonitor today.