Editor's Comments: I always enjoy Clare McDonald's articles and totally support using cross-skilling as a tactic to close the skills gap. An easy solution is to outsource but this is truly a very short sighted approach.
Job Shadowing, Continuous Learning, Boot Camp, Online Courses & Apprenticeships can all be part of the skills gap solution.
In my opinion the first step is to acknowledge there is a skills gap and the second step is to develop a comprehensive workforce plan around how you are going to tackle the challenge. Part of the problem with the skills gap has been a reluctance on the part of employers to buckling down and understanding what they 'can do about it' rather than just complaining about the problem.
More than 75% of non-technical workers would consider a technology career, but are they the answer to the skills gap and how can organizations recruit and keep them?
As the pace of transformation increases in the technology industry, the gap is widening between the number of roles that need to be filled and the number of skilled workers to fill them.
Firms are struggling to find the people they need, with many claiming that graduates are leaving university without relevant skills and the talent pool for senior technical roles is too small. And by 2020, the UK is expected to have a shortage of 800,000 tech workers.
But focusing on candidates who have passion and a desire to learn, rather than those with detailed technical skills, may be the best way to bridge the skills gap and to avoid job automation for tech roles in the future, according to the Mortimer Spinks and Computer Weekly Technology Survey.
Paul Church, director at Mortimer Spinks, said: “If you don’t have a desire to learn, you are going to get left behind. It is reassuring, in a world of automation, that the need for soft skills is not going anywhere.”
Mortimer Spinks’ research found that 76% of non-technical or non-digital workers would consider a career in tech and digital, and 91% agreed that the tech and digital industry is growing rapidly.
Church and a panel of hiring managers and experts in the technology industry agreed that more firms should look into cross-skilling the workers they already have as one of the most effective ways to gain instant access to talent.
Some of the businesses surveyed by Mortimer Spinks and Computer Weekly said they were already doing this, with 33% of tech and digital workers joining the tech remit through cross-training via unofficial means such as shadowing or learning in their own time.
Church said: “Cross-training is the most organic and efficient way to get the right people into the right roles in your business. Just imagine what we could achieve if we had some formal processes for this.”
But many firms said there were barriers to this method of recruiting tech workers, with some saying they did not think this was an option or were not even aware of this method.
Many turn to outsourcing to overcome these issues, but Thierry Bedos, CTO of Hotels.com, said this was the “easy way out” and suggested firms should increase spending on cross-training or up-skilling, using methods such as coding bootcamps or online courses.