Tech skills boom with digital pivots; is it time for up-skilling or a job change? 


woman with tech/digital skills in a business

Tech

By Mike Featherstone

With the entire country shifting to remote-working arrangements where possible, the current situation has prompted organisations to pivot to a digital-first business model, which is of course heavily reliant on tech skills. 

From the development of new apps, the shift to online marketplaces, and providing staff with secure and robust virtual private networks to access corporate resources, organisations are taking all the necessary measures to ensure business continuity and resiliency on multiple levels through these times.

This challenge is putting the onus on organisations and business leaders to review and update the tech skills of their existing workforce—in areas even outside of IT— to cater to the demand of the current working environment. The growing importance of tech skills now goes beyond the need to fill the skills gap.

Moreover, the global crisis is leaving many with no choice but to consider a career change. Unfortunately, many jobs cannot be worked from home, and for many, this has resulted in redundancies.

However, it’s not all grim. There is indeed a silver lining to all of this.

Organisations face a critical time to upskill

Australia is currently short of 2,300 workers in cybersecurity, with an expected demand of at least 17,600 additional professionals in the sector by 2026. At this time, many organisations do not have the right level of security expertise to face a highly advanced threat landscape.

Cybersecurity should be a critical area of focus for all organisations, but with a newfound wave of security risks hitting each industry—such as the potential use of unsecured Wi-Fi networks and the rapid move to multi-cloud environments to foster faster file sharing capabilities—the creation and maintenance of a strong security posture has never been more important.

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In a similar vein, many retail businesses are forced to pivot into a digital first business-model and make the quick and efficient move to an online store, accompanied by applications and IT systems to support a more virtual way of customer relationship management. Many organisations don’t have in-house software developers and the technical staff needed to support this transition, and bringing on external expertise or third parties can be a costly burden on businesses already in financial strife.

The future of work is being accelerated, but can we keep up? If organisations recognise the need but lack the talent, what is the solution? Outsourcing external talent and resources may fix a short-term need, but will it achieve long-term digital transformation goals?

The solution lies in upskilling existing talent, and it’s up to business leaders to drive initiatives to support this.

Opportunity amidst a shifting workforce

With government and health officials asking that we stay home and practice social distancing, there has never been a more opportune time to invest in ourselves personally and professionally.

Taking this time to upskill ourselves and our employees is incredibly important and some industry bodies have already begun to back this idea, suggesting that the $1,500 wage subsidy during the pandemic be invested into upskilling employees.

Acquiring new technology skills in software development, data science and analytics, cybersecurity, among others, and doing it in-house without the need to outsource, is a viable way to pivot your strategy and future-proof your business. The benefits of upskilling in technology roles are two-fold.

Firstly, now and well into the future, a career in technology can be remote, flexible, and potentially self-guiding based on what you want to upskill in. Pursuing a career in technology offers an array of opportunities for self-development at your own pace that works around your way of life.

Secondly, a workforce that is equipped with both digital literacy and technical skills will be better prepared in the face of an unpredictable landscape, much like the one we are currently experiencing.

Lessons learned from a time of uncertainty

No one saw this coming, and it’s brought entire economies to their knees as a result. Leveraging this time of isolation and using it as an opportunity to invest in technology skills will not only prepare us for disaster—should it strike again—but contribute to long-term digital transformation goals as well.

Many of us will spend the next few months holed up in our homes, fighting off the cabin fever while struggling to keep ourselves entertained. Using this time to be productive will have a mutual benefit on both ourselves, Australian businesses and the economy as a whole.

The economy that emerges on the other side of all this will look very different, but together we can come out of this stronger and help build a brighter future for all Australians.


Mike Featherstone is the Managing Director, ANZ & APAC at Pluralsight.

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