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Tackling the Digital Skills Shortage

Breanne Wilson
Oracle University SEO & Content Strategist

Written by Rena Mayer, PR Online Editor, Oracle University

New Report Calls for Governments to Partner with Industry Leaders

With the rapid growth of the global digital tech industry, labor pools around the world are not keeping up with the pace.

As the digital tech economy expands in multiple directions, a new report from Tech Nation indicates that companies from all sectors are struggling to compete for talent. Global labor markets are showing technical skills shortages across the board.

Digital tech industries have been critical about the economic recovery, but even in developed countries with mature high-tech markets, there are still disparities between technical staffing needs and available talent pools.

This is not only affecting businesses in high-tech industries.

The Tech Nation report found that a massive 41% of the UK’s digital jobs are in traditionally non-digital industries, and that for businesses within these traditional sectors, technical jobs are making up a growing percentage of the workforce.

  • Advertisements for digital jobs across non-digital industries grew by 34% between 2012 and 2015, according to a UK study from Burning Glass.
  • The largest growth in digital jobs was actually seen in the health sector, which rose by 109.8%.
  • Global businesses throughout traditional industry sectors recognize the need for technical skills to compete effectively in their respective markets.

As a result, these global businesses are competing with each other, and also with the digital tech industry, for the same technical talent - and there is not enough to go around.

Accordingly, technical salaries have been rising in line with demand.

  • For example, Burning Glass found that between 2012 and 2015, the average advertised salary for UK digital roles grew 19% faster than for non-digital roles.
  • And last year, the average advertised digital job salary was 36% higher than the national average, at nearly $70,000.

So if the demand for technical talent has been rising, why is there still a lack of supply?

To understand this, one needs to look at the sources of technical talent development.

From Tech Nation’s report, it seems traditional education has not been playing its part. Research proves the most important source of digital tech skills development is self-taught learning - far outranking universities for software development.

Self-taught learning has largely been enabled by online open-source platforms, and it is in places such as these, rather than at universities, that much top technical talent can be found.

The seeming lack of importance of public education as an environment for digital skills development was recently highlighted by cyber-security expert John McAfee, who stated that “a room full of Stanford computer science graduates cannot compete with a true hacker without even a high school education.”

And while one in three digital tech businesses is still sourcing talent from universities, companies overall are diversifying their talent sources, complaining of a lack of business or up-to-date technical skills in graduate candidates.

Digital staffing needs are not being met through traditional education channels.

The Tech Nation report therefore recommends to policy makers that government bodies step in and do the following:

  • Work with businesses to introduce career possibilities in digital markets to the younger generation.
  • Connect pupils with industry.
  • Expand apprenticeships.
  • Link technical skills with business skills. 

Top-tier IT vendors and technical training companies will play an increasingly large role in these skills development models.

Not only do they understand current business requirements, they are also at the forefront of technology development.

Companies such as Oracle, and its educational arm, Oracle University, can also see business and IT trends and respond appropriately to emerging business requirements.

For example, to counter the current skills shortage, Oracle University is already partnering with local government bodies around the world to provide training courses to the unemployed.

This enables more companies to hire the qualified staff they need for their businesses to succeed, while reducing unemployment.

Furthermore, progressive training vendors like Oracle University understand the types of technical training best suited to digital learners of all calibers and offer a range of courses to meet these needs.

At Oracle University, we are looking forward to continuing our partnerships with public bodies, to provide individuals and businesses across all industries with the skills they need, while supporting the proliferation of digital knowledge.

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