Empower and Upskill your Workforce with Digital Skills

Technology is rapidly and fundamentally changing the way most people do their jobs, disrupting the nature of work and increasing the demand for new kinds of digital skills. Here at Phoenix, we see first-hand the digital transformation organisation undergo in order to stay relevant and improve their services.

Technology impacts most roles, whether it’s being used to enhance a physical service, defending your organisation from cyber threats or automating processes. The demand for people with high-level digital skills is greater than the supply of suitably qualified employees, and the gap is growing. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2022 emerging technologies will generate 133 million new jobs in place of the 75 million that will be displaced.

Byron Nicolaides, CEO of PeopleCert, a professional skills assessment and certification business, says:  “If the demand for digital expertise is not able to be met by the supply, the resulting deficit in a skilled workforce will not only affect the ability of businesses to shape their own future, but will hinder the economic growth and generate a new reality of [digital] illiteracy, ”.

The UK is in the top ten most digitally advanced nation in Europe according to data from the European Union. It is already home to a large number of big tech businesses and the UK has more tech “unicorns” (start-up businesses valued at $1 billion or more) than any other European country.

Despite this status, the UK is still facing a significant digital skills shortage. A report from the Open University last year highlights the extent of the problem and its impact on UK companies, with nine in 10 organisations admitting to having a shortage of digital skills.

The 2019 report, Bridging the Digital Divide, also reports that 37% of jobs are expected to alter significantly in the next five years — which could see 12 million employees in the UK affected by changing roles or potential redundancies. Bearing in mind that the findings from this report are pre-pandemic and therefore likely to have significantly increased since COVID-19.

The report shows that a third of business leaders are unable get to grips with new technologies because of a lack of expertise. Reversing this gap by helping individuals to acquire the necessary digital skills would have an enormous impact on the economy, the organisation and its employees.

Microsoft’s Get On 2021 campaign

In an effort to help more people acquire digital skills, Microsoft is launching a five-year campaign to help 1.5 million people build careers in technology and help 300,000 connect to tech job opportunities.

The campaign aims to help address the widening digital talent gap in industry, to accelerate technology adoption, drive UK productivity and enhance competitiveness by increasing access to tech careers and fostering new talent pathways.

Get On 2021 builds on Microsoft’s one-year global skills initiative and will train people who are in education, those new to tech and those who have had their jobs impacted by the crisis. It will advance the skills of tech professionals and help leaders who need to embrace new business models and deploy technology to drive organisations forward.

Microsoft research has identified two key areas for growth. Using LinkedIn data, they anticipate the need for more than three million skilled people in UK technology careers over the next five years. Allied to which, a Microsoft study with Goldsmiths, University of London has identified more than £48 billion of opportunity if UK leaders enhance their organisations’ digital competitiveness through sustainable growth practices. Visit AKA.MS/UKrecovery to download a copy of the report.

Microsoft is working with its 25,000-strong partner community and customers to create, expand and accelerate pathways into tech careers, widening access and building a more diverse tech specialist workforce.

Bringing together programmes targeting education through to industry, the campaign aims to connect new entrants and digitally skilled people to jobs in technology and strengthen current digital capability in other sectors. It will focus on three key groups:

  • New Tech Talent: People who are in education or leaving education and will be new to the world of work, e.g. school, college and university students
  • Upskillers: People looking to improve their skills and long-term career prospects, career switchers from regions and industries most affected by the current crisis and those looking to return to the workplace after redundancy or other life events, e.g. advanced knowledge workers
  • Modernisers: IT Pros and business leaders looking to improve their skills and long-term career prospects. Those who want to learn to leverage the latest technology to improve organisational/business effectiveness and create sustainable growth.

Core programmes in the campaign include pre-employability programmes for students across the UK, expanding apprenticeships through levy transfer, social impact partnerships, career switcher programmes, AI and AI business schools and Talent Accelerator academies. Existing partnerships with UA92, UK colleges and universities, the Institute of Digital Technology, DWP and the DFE’s Skills Toolkit will also support those looking to participate. Additionally, Microsoft is working with its partner community and LinkedIn to directly connect skilled people to job opportunities in technology.