The issue of the digital skills gap is talked about in countries around the world. Even the world’s most technologically advanced countries, the US included, are struggling with it. It is clearly a serious issue.
But establishing what exactly the digital skills gap is, what are its effects and how it can be managed is not as clear. For one, the digital skills gap means something different depending on how it is experienced.
There are two main factors in the digital skills gap that affect different sectors and economies in different proportions. The first and possibly most pressing factor is the lack of digital skills amongst existing workforces.
The second factor is the lack of properly trained graduates to fill digital posts in growing technological industries. Both factors can massively inhibit the growth of individual businesses and whole economies even to the point of causing contractions.
The lack of digital skills amongst existing workers is a particular problem for developed economies. Many large, established businesses with large workforces made up of highly skilled workers are unable to adopt the digital technologies that will make their businesses more effective.
Upskilling an already trained workforce to be able to work with or even develop digital products can be an enormous challenge. However, companies that fail to meet this challenge are likely to be superseded by those that do, or by new companies unburdened by a workforce lacking these digital skills.
Developing economies and tech-focused economies, such as Ireland, are particularly susceptible to the second factor of insufficient numbers of IT graduates. Much energy and investment have gone into successfully growing the ICT sector in these countries. But without sufficient graduates, these burgeoning sectors can stagnate.
Of course, both elements of the digital skills gap affect every type of economy to varying degrees. But while it is a problem for economies as a whole, its resolution provides an opportunity for businesses and individuals alike.
Those companies that effectively and promptly train their workforce to be proficient in relevant digital skills can better utilise the abundance of available digital products and services to improve their own products or services and provide them at more competitive rates.
For individuals, an opportunity arises in bridging their own skills gap. Graduates and skilled workers with IT qualifications currently have their pick of the best ICT jobs. Adding a digital qualification to your resume while the skills gap remains open can turn a career jump into a career leap.
Ultimately, wherever the digital skills gap is a problem for an economy, it will eventually be resolved through training, movement of workers, and competition. Like any gap in a market, the digital skills gap presents an opening for smart operators to enter the digital market space ahead of the curve.