Opinion | 5 Key Success Factors to consider when creating Digital Skills Initiatives

Learn about the top 5  Key Success Factors for Digital Skills Initiatives

  • The implementation of digital solutions can increase the productivity and efficiency of companies, especially SMEs and the self-employed, between 15% and 25%.
  • Lack of technological knowledge continues to be a big issue in Spain: 46% of Spanish companies have difficulties finding the digital profiles they needed.
  • The World Economic Forum reports 54% of employees will need to update or retrain their digital skills to avoid technological disruption

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Technology is present everywhere in our life and society. It is a key enabler in the development of new business models and innovation. Spain is immersed in an intense Digital Transformation period, in which education is seen as a crucial area for development and employment.

The irruption and adoption of new enabling technologies also mark an expected increase in productivity and efficiency by freeing human resources from routine tasks. The implementation of digital solutions can increase the productivity and efficiency of companies, especially SMEs and the self-employed, between 15% and 25%.

Where does Spain stand in achieving digital transformation?

The lack of technological knowledge continues to be a big issue in Spain, affecting government agencies, educational systems, technology industries and entrepreneurs. 46% of Spanish companies[1] have difficulties finding the digital profiles they needed. The hardest-to-find technology-related profiles are those linked to data analytics, cloud computing, and application development. There is still room to improve since 49% of Spanish companies do not have (re)training programmes for their workforce. Therefore, training in digital skills and digitisation represents a great opportunity in terms of growth and value creation.

According to the 2021 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) report, 4 out of 10 people aged between 16 and 74 lack basic digital skills. This explains that digital skills and employability are essential to achieve a sustainable digital transformation and place Spain in a leadership position at the European level.

Spain ranks 9th among the 27 EU Member States in the European Commission’s 2021 edition of the DESI. On human capital, Spain ranks 12th among the 27 EU countries and has been improving over the last few years. 57% of the people in Spain have basic digital skills, which is just above the EU average but still far from the EU’s 80% target by 2030. Despite some progress, the shortage of ICT specialists is still a productivity constraining factor, especially for SMEs. The gender imbalance remains significant and female specialists only account for 20% of all ICT specialists.

The digital transformation facilitates the emergence of new business models, new products, and services, as well as a new conception of cities, agriculture, and industry, with new production processes that are more flexible, competitive, and consumer-friendly. This new paradigm affects employment needs and professional qualifications. All this represents an opportunity for Spain to position itself successfully at an international level, using the new rules of the digital world and becoming a Spain 4.0 that places our country among the leaders in digital transformation in Europe.

Concrete examples to narrow the digital skills gap

To achieve the digital transformation, resources and infrastructures are necessary — but the main enabler is people. For AMETIC, the voice of the digital industry in Spain, it is important to promote digital skills, as well as quality employment. For this reason, AMETIC promotes and participates in activities and programmes whose purpose is the promotion of digital skills. Our Digital Skills Committee gathers more than 110 active members focusing on the digital skills shortage in Spain. Some of our main activities are:

  • Coordinator of the Digital Skills & Jobs Coalition campaign (at the national level) for more than 5 years
  • White Paper on Digital Skills[2] with specific proposals for the Government and 10 action points to put in place with the help of the public bodies
  • Document with recommendations to address digital transformation projects agreed with trade unions
  • Implementation of the ESSA (European Software Skills Alliance) project at the national level
  • Aligned with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (revised the Vocational Training curricula, adapting them to the current times)
  • Member of the Dual Vocational Training Alliance (offering more results-oriented alternatives)
  • Empowering women: Excellence Mentoring programme in collaboration with Real Academia de Ingeniería RAI[3]

Education and training as key enablers of the digital transformation

Digitisation is a challenge for all countries and constitutes a key opportunity to improve the competitiveness of markets, generating higher rates of growth and job creation. COVID-19 has highly impacted our way of working and training in digital skills has taken on special importance.

There is currently a digital skills gap in Europe. The European Union points out that 45%[4] of jobs will be related to the digital environment. The World Economic Forum reports 54% of employees will need to update or retrain their digital skills to avoid technological disruption.

It is essential to educate and train in the current and new digital skills demanded by organisations, and to involve all stakeholders like companies, the training sector, universities, and the public sector to boost training on digital skills.

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

AMETIC’s recommendations to narrow the digital skills shortage:

1. Education must be treated as a priority, the key factor for current and new generations

Digital skills training is getting more and more important in any area and lifelong learning is necessary to ensure our workers can adapt to the digital environment. Companies must help to close the digital gap by ensuring that their employees acquire the necessary hard and soft via reskilling or upskilling programmes.

2. Digital Skills to fill the market needs

Ensure that the education system (professional training and university education) aligns with the skills demanded by companies. Vocational training and University education must be adapted urgently so that the current gap between the demand of companies and the supply of professionals is resolved. To this end, the following actions are proposed:

  • Prepare a catalogue of University and Vocational Training degrees according to the needs of the Digital Society.
  • Improve the collaborative relationship between education institutions and companies so that the training curricula and teaching staff training evolve at the same speed as technology evolves.

3. Foster employees’ learnability attitude

Being up to date in a fast-paced society requires both time and resources. By promoting active employment policies in the workplace throughout the working life of the employees (especially those related to skilling, reskilling, and upskilling), we will ensure that our workforce reaches the market needs. Designing a tailor-made career path for each employee will also contribute to the success of the integrity of each employee, giving them the chance to re-adapt their skills according to the expected results.

4. Working together by promoting public-private collaboration

The European Commission has announced an ambitious target to have 20 million ICT specialists within the European workforce by 2030. Supporting the digital skills of its population is among the 10 priorities of Spain’s digital strategy, Digital Spain 2025. This strategy acknowledges that the lack of digital skills hampers the country’s digital transformation. In early 2021, a specific National Digital Competences Plan was adopted.

Giving a solution to the digital skills gap in Europe is both a responsibility and a commitment that European governments have towards their citizen. This duty must involve all the private bodies (Associations, Business Schools, Universities, Educational Centres, Schools, Companies) and public stakeholders, and policymakers (Secretariat of State, Ministry of Education & Vocational Training, etc.) to talk and listen to each other and work together in finding the right solutions.

Another aspect we should take into account is equipping our workers with the knowledge, understanding and motivation to make a positive difference within their organisation by supporting businesses to achieve a greener society and reduce the ecological footprint. We must ensure that environmental sustainability is embedded into all job roles of a company. By promoting internal environmental-friendly policies, we will reduce our impact and increase performance, efficiency, and impact.

5. Raise awareness about high productivity profiles and other role models to follow

We should design different educational programmes to see more tech-inspired activities that are geared toward school-aged girls and boys as a way to promote STEM vocations (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). This might help youngsters to conceptualise their engineering skills. By bringing together professionals such as cybersecurity, IA, IoT, Cloud or Big data experts (as role models to follow) with students about to finish their degrees, we could stimulate the interest in these careers.

The way to a gender-balanced work environment starts at school. A special focus must be taken on young girls, incorporating from primary education the appropriate subjects with technological content adapted to the new digital reality, as well as a programme of permanent awareness about security and trust in digital and promotion of an entrepreneurial culture.

By targeting middle school levels, we will break the vast divide between genders in the STEAM field, because this is the season when children tend to become more aware of the gender differences imposed upon them by society.

There is more creativity in science and technology than people give credit for. We should perceive careers in tech not only as a way to learn about technology but to create innovative new technology. The real challenge comes when you are turning your potential into actual promotion.

To give an example, software professionals are often treated as “geeks”, but it is our responsibility to integrate them as part of a team within organisations, by providing them with a broad skill set (soft and hard) instead of isolating them. This will enable them to work closely with people from different fields.

  1. https://news.microsoft.com/es-es/2021/09/28/el-66-de-los-jovenes-graduados-en-microsoft-azure-se-incorpora-al-mercado-laboral-en-menos-de-tres-meses/
  2. https://ametic.es/sites/default/files//libro_blanco_def_v7.pdf
  3. https://ametic.es/es/prensa/ametic-y-la-real-academia-de-ingenieria-lanzan-la-ii-edicion-de-su-programa-de-mentoring-para
  4. https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2020.pdf