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Hard demand for soft skills to bridge digital talent gap

Hard demand for soft skills to bridge digital talent gap

Learnability has emerged as the most undervalued intangible skill in a new report that suggests the digital skills shortage is so great that the war for talent has become a ‘famine’.

Research from the Infosys Knowledge Institute looked at two perspectives on the barriers that prevent sufficient demand-supply match of talent – tangible and intangible barriers to talent transformation.

Infosys’ Talent Radar 2019 report is based on an online survey of more than 1,000 senior-level leaders of companies with revenue greater than $1bn.

Among the tangible barriers, respondents cited lack of budget as the biggest barrier to repurposing efforts, followed by organisational issues, lack of management awareness or support, and inadequate talent management plans.

Among the intangible barriers, learnability received short shrift in the Talent Radar research. But according to Infosys, this limits the “tremendous potential” of reskilling as a competitive advantage for companies that embrace learnability.

Undervaluing learnability limits the potential of other talent initiatives implemented by global enterprises.

Also highly sought after were candidates with strong soft skills led by teamwork (74 per cent of digital initiatives), leadership (70 per cent), and communication (68 per cent).

Nobody should underestimate the skills gaps and talent shortages that could exist and a culture of lifelong learning is one of the biggest defences to them both

For both hard and soft skills, the capabilities hardest to find and in greatest demand from respondents were analytics, communication, and adaptability.

The research found although nearly all large enterprises (95 per cent) are pursuing improvement initiatives, digitising the business is less about disruption and more about meeting focused objectives. These objectives included: a better understanding of customers and markets (46 per cent of respondents); customer experience (45 per cent); increasing productivity (40 per cent); and employee experience (35 per cent).

Digital initiatives require people with sophisticated technical skills and the ability to continually update those skills as cycles continue to shorten. The five skills in greatest demand for a career in tech are analytics (67 per cent of digital initiatives), user experience (67 per cent), automation (61 per cent), IT architecture (59 per cent) and artificial intelligence (58 per cent).

“There is not just a talent war – it’s a famine. To succeed, companies must hire, develop, and retain talent better than their competition,” said Pravin Rao, chief operating officer, Infosys.

“As enterprises progress in their digital journeys, the winners will be those who utilise multiple hiring sources and reskill workers in a culture of lifelong learning – invest in their people, who are the ultimate differentiator in a commoditised world.”

Commenting on the findings, Rialto director Richard Chiumento said that reskilling in this way is a win-win. “It helps to ensure both organisations and their people are fit for the future and the digital economy,” he said. “Nobody should underestimate the skills gaps and talent shortages that could exist and a culture of lifelong learning is one of the biggest defences to them both.”

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