Close the Digital Skills Gap in the Workplace with Technical Training

The workplace is constantly evolving in every aspect, especially with technology. But the assumption should never be that employees come with all the technical skills they need no matter if they’re 18 or 45.

Just because young kids grow up with technology prevalent doesn’t mean they know how to use company technology. It’s also a losing battle trying to train employees based on generations which are typically irrelevant for training.

Every day technology will become more integrated into our lives and the gap between those who know the technology and those who don’t continue to widen. The demand for individuals with strong digital skills will continue to grow and there is a digital skills shortage.

There’s a significant challenge that many workplaces (and employees too) are facing – the digital skills gap. The digital skills gap refers to the disparity between the skills required by employers and the skills possessed by the workforce. It becomes a tale of the haves and the have-nots.

With new technologies emerging at an unprecedented rate, many employees find themselves lacking the necessary technical knowledge to navigate this digital era effectively. This gap not only hinders individual career growth but also poses a significant threat to businesses as they struggle to stay competitive in the digital age.

There are three things in life you can’t avoid. Death, taxes, and innovation.

Don’t worry, though. There is a solution that can help bridge this gap and empower both individuals and organizations to thrive in the digital world – technical training.

By investing in the right general technical training as well as custom technical training, businesses can equip their employees with the essential skills needed to close the digital talent gap and adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape.

Technical training in the workplace is essential so keep reading to learn how it can be effectively used to reduce or even eliminate the digital skills gap.

We’ll also explore some benefits of providing employees with the opportunity to enhance their digital skills and you’ll learn some practical strategies for implementing technical training.

If you’re a leader in IT, change manager, program manager, or work with digital transformation in your organization, this post will show you the way to close the digital skills gap through the power of technical training.

What Is the Digital Skills Gap?

In case you’re scanning (I don’t blame you), the digital skills gap is when there’s a gap between the digital skills an employee has and the digital skills the workplace needs. In other words, employees don’t know as much as a company needs them to know.

As technology marches forward, the demand for individuals with strong digital skills keeps going up. But what happens as it’s assumed that employees simply have all the digital skills because they grew up with it?

This disparity between the skills required by employers and those possessed by the workforce is known as the digital skills gap.

I’ll tell you what happens… They have the wrong digital skills (Instagram and being a fashion influencer don’t cut it in the workplace) for the workplace and don’t have the right digital skills.

Watching videos on YouTube and having your own channel is not the same as managing information in Outlook and being able to use your company’s ERP system. Many employees find themselves lacking the necessary technical knowledge for the workplace.

The Impact of the Digital Skills Gap on Businesses

The digital skills gap poses significant challenges for businesses. Without employees who have the necessary digital skills, organizations may struggle to stay competitive in today’s digital age. They may face difficulties in adopting new technologies, implementing effective digital strategies, and leveraging data-driven insights to drive business growth.

Businesses that fail to address the digital skills gap risk falling behind competitors or simply dying out. They may miss out on opportunities for innovation and growth, as well as face increased costs associated with hiring external talent or training existing employees.

The wider the gap gets the harder it becomes but at the same time companies can’t stay still because the gap will then become between them and their competitors.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Just kidding, change must happen and you definitely aren’t damned if you embrace change.

The Importance of Closing the Digital Skills Gap in the Workplace

Because a lot of company technology and processes are custom, it’s nearly impossible to hire employees with all the desired skills. Helping employees embrace technology and narrowing the digital skills gap for them is essential.

It’s the only way to make sure you can find quality employees and ensure they get the skills they need to work with company technology. Of course, it shouldn’t all be on the company. Employees must take part in closing the digital skills gap for themselves.

The Role Of Individuals

Acquiring or improving their digital skills can enhance their employability and career prospects. In an increasingly technology-driven job market, having strong digital competencies can set individuals apart from their peers and open doors to new opportunities.

Not to mention there are lots of opportunities to learn out there for little to no money. YouTube is full of tutorials and there are lots of free resources on sites like Udemy as well as Coursera.

The Role Of Companies

Closing the digital skills gap is essential for maintaining a competitive edge. By investing in technical training programs for their employees (custom and off-the-shelf), businesses can ensure that they have a skilled workforce capable of driving innovation and adapting to technological advancements.

A company can’t compete pushing only paper and sticking to the old ways. Competitors are forever looking for ways to become more efficient and lower their cost of business. If one company’s cost of doing business is higher without any benefits then that company will get priced out of the market.

How Technical Training Reduces The Digital Skills Gap in the Workplace

Technical training plays a vital role in reducing or eliminating the digital skills gap in the workplace. By providing employees with targeted training programs focused on developing specific technical competencies, businesses can equip their workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in today’s digitally-driven environment.

That doesn’t necessarily mean providing them with general PowerPoint training either. Sometimes just making available a platform for learning general technologies is enough for things like that.

But what about more specific training for custom company technology and processes? That’s where custom technical training is a must. Custom corporate technical training offers hands-on learning experiences that allow employees to gain practical skills and apply them directly to their work.

Nothing contributes to reducing the digital skills gap like technical training does.

These programs cover a wide range of topics, including how to use the company customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, supply chain management (SCM) systems, human resource information systems (HRIS), and on and on.

When employees are trained in these systems, they can enhance their digital literacy and become more proficient in using these tools and technologies for their jobs. If you don’t train them and simply have someone “show them the ropes” then every employee is inconsistently trained, some are thrown to the sharks, and others are shown poor ways of using them which causes their own problems.

Technical training reduces those gaps in digital literacy and helps employees work better.

The Benefits of Technical Training for Employees and Organizations

Investing in technical training programs offers numerous benefits for both employees and organizations. For employees, technical training provides an opportunity to upskill or reskill themselves, making them more valuable assets to their employers.

It also boosts their confidence in using digital tools and technologies, enabling them to perform their jobs more efficiently. You also can’t overlook the benefit of employees being well-trained and using company technology correctly. All types of bad things can happen when employees aren’t provided sufficient training.

Employees love it when a company invests in them and their skills.

Technical training also leads to increased job satisfaction and engagement. When people feel supported by their employers through training opportunities, they are more likely to feel valued and motivated in their roles. Good technical training also reduces employee turnover, something that companies with poor training experience a high level of.

For organizations, technical training helps build a workforce that is adaptable and capable of embracing technological advancements. It fosters a culture of continuous learning within the organization and encourages innovation.

By investing in the development of their employees’ digital skills, businesses can drive growth, improve productivity, and stay ahead of the competition. You can also check out these 5 benefits of corporate IT training programs.

Assessing the Current Skill Gaps: Identifying Areas of Improvement

Before implementing any technical training initiatives, businesses need to assess the current skill gaps within their workforce. This assessment helps identify areas where employees may be lacking in digital skills or knowledge.

There are several methods that organizations can use to assess skill gaps effectively. One common approach is conducting surveys or interviews with employees to gauge their proficiency levels in specific areas. Another method is analyzing performance data or conducting skills assessments through online platforms or testing tools.

You can’t close the skills gap without knowing what it is.

The second one isn’t so simple which is why you may also just review where employees are messing up the technology the worst. For new employees, it’s always important to start with a strong onboarding process that introduces them to the basics of company technology and what everything is used for.

Sometimes you just have to start with the basics, those things that senior employees simply take for granted as being common knowledge. Sorry to say that it’s not.

By understanding where skill gaps exist within the organization, businesses can target the digital skills gap and eliminate it more effectively.

Key Components of Effective Technical Training Programs

Effective technical training programs share several key elements that contribute to closing the digital skills gap successfully. These components include:

  1. Clear Performance (not learning) Objectives: Technical training programs should have well-defined performance objectives rather than unhelpful learning objectives that outline what employees will be able to do after completing training.
  2. Relevant Content: All training should be relevant including technical training. We always like to say relevance is king (and queen too!) when it comes to training. The only way to keep employees motivated and actively involved in the learning process is by keeping every bit of it relevant and immediately applicable to their jobs.
  3. Practical Application Opportunities: Providing opportunities for employees to apply their newly acquired skills in real-world scenarios is crucial for reinforcing learning and building confidence. That could mean creating realistic software simulations or in some circumstances venturing into even more complex (and expensive) methods.
  4. Ongoing Support and Mentoring: Offering ongoing support and mentoring throughout the training program helps employees overcome challenges and reinforces their learning experience. You may even implement simple communities of practice or some other type of ongoing support through your enterprise social network (ESN). Social learning is more powerful and effective than you might think.
  5. Effective Assessments: Allowing employees to test out is helpful and so is having effective assessments. Assessments when done well can help identify areas where additional support may be needed.

These components should help you create more effective technical training. Much of it does come from practice and working in the training industry for a long time, though. If you would like to talk with a training professional, schedule some time with one our of our instructional design consultants.

Strategies for Implementing Technical Training Initiatives

People go through multi-year programs to learn how to properly implement training programs. So, this isn’t something we’re going to cover effectively in one section. But we do have some basic pointers that will at least give you a decent start.

It all requires careful planning and execution, though. In the same way a pencil doesn’t make you an architect, a piece of software like Articulate Storyline or PowerPoint doesn’t make you an instructional designer.

This is a high-level overview of some strategies that businesses can use to effectively implement technical training programs:

  1. Identify Training Needs: Conduct a thorough assessment of the organization’s current skill gaps to identify areas where technical training is most needed. This will also help identify what employees need to do.
  2. Set Clear Performance Goals: Define clear goals for the technical training initiatives, such as improving specific digital competencies or addressing critical skill gaps. What will employees do that they couldn’t do before?
  3. Develop a Training Plan: Create a comprehensive training plan that outlines the objectives, content outline, delivery method(s), timeline, and evaluation methods for each training program.
  4. Choose the Right Delivery Methods: Consider various delivery methods such as in-person workshops, online courses, blended learning approaches, or partnering with external training providers based on the organization’s needs and resources. Sometimes performance support is all you need and that’s perfectly fine.
  5. Encourage Employee Participation: Promote employee participation by highlighting the benefits of technical training programs and creating a supportive learning environment. You could also encourage participation by getting employees to share user-generated content on the ESN for topics they’re an expert in.
  6. Provide Ongoing Support: This one keeps cropping up for obvious reasons. Offering ongoing support throughout the training process is the best way to make sure employees feel the love. This could be as simple as having their managers check in with them regularly.

In the instructional design world, we have a thing called ADDIE. It helps us be thorough with a plan that can be implemented successfully without overwhelming employees. The first two letters stand for analysis and design, the two most important parts of creating technical training.

We also say that without A or D training will DIE.

Overcoming Challenges in Implementing Technical Training

Implementing technical training to overcome the digital skills gap may come with its fair share of challenges. Some common challenges include:

  1. Limited Resources: Businesses may face constraints in budget, time, infrastructure, or availability of internal trainers. It’s essential to plan for and allocate resources effectively and explore cost-effective training options.
  2. Resistance to Change: Employees may resist change including the training that navigates them through change. Clear communication about the benefits of technical training and addressing any concerns can help overcome resistance. It’s helpful when change managers and program managers work with training professionals throughout the project.
  3. Sustaining Engagement: Maintaining employee engagement throughout the training can be a challenge. Employers can address this by sticking only to relevant training and making it succinct with a clear performance objective. It also helps to give employees kudos for their accomplishments.
  4. Measure Training Effectiveness: Evaluating the effectiveness of technical training programs can be challenging without proper metrics and evaluation methods in place. It’s also pretty challenging to know if your technical training was successful without some sort of measurement.

Each challenge here can be overcome with a good goal and plan to get there.

Wrap Up

Closing the digital skills gap is crucial for both individuals and organizations looking to thrive in today’s digital world. By investing in the right technical training businesses can equip their employees with the necessary digital skills to adapt to technological advancements and stay competitive.

Sometimes that may require custom digital training solutions but sometimes it could merely require purchasing off-the-shelf training for more generic topics. Technical training offers numerous benefits, including increased job satisfaction, improved productivity, and enhanced employability for individuals.

When the digital skills gap is lessened or closed, it enables organizations to drive innovation, improve efficiency, and achieve business growth. Without paying attention to the gap and simply assuming younger workers have all the technical knowledge they need, organizations will suffer.

Closing the skills gap sometimes requires custom eLearning but it could also only require simple performance support.

By assessing current skill gaps, implementing effective technical training programs, and measuring their impact, businesses can successfully close the digital skills gap and position themselves for success in the digital age. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, embrace the need for technical training to bridge the digital skills gap and unlock new opportunities in the digital era.

If you’re ready to lessen the skills gap in your organization, schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your goals. Our professional instructional design consultants would love to learn about your organization’s goals and how we can assist in closing the digital skills gap of your employees.

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