Employees are a business’ most valuable asset, and staying committed to their training and development is essential to sustainable business growth and success. With many employees working from home and using technology to collaborate with colleagues and clients, the pandemic marked a pivotal moment for digital skills development.
But, are employers taking advantage of this massive skill building opportunity?
A survey conducted by advisory multinational PwC of 32 517 workers in 19 countries, including South Africa, delved into the state of employee digital skills development within the context of a COVID-19 landscape.
What really stands out in the survey is that the pandemic has caused a ramp up in skills development, with 40% of employees enhancing their digital skills under lockdown while 77% are interested in learning new skills or completely re-train.
However, 74% of employees believe it’s their own responsibility to take charge of their skills development. Overall, 80% of employees are confident they will be receptive to the introduction of new technology in the workplace. In South Africa, 66% of these respondents say that they can adapt to technological change.
Responding to the data, PwC People and Organization Practice joint global leader Bhushan Sethi said: “”Government and business leaders need to work together to intensify efforts to ensure people in the most at-risk industries and groups get the opportunities they need. Automation and technological disruption are inevitable, but we can control whether its negative effects are managed or not.”
The industries most-at-risk of technological disruption referred to by Sethi includes retail and transport. Only 25% of people in the retail industry say they have opportunities to improve digital skills, while only 20% of respondents in the transport industry report this.
The survey concludes that the work-from-home and work-from-anywhere trend will stick around after the pandemic. Of those who are to work to work remotely, 72% favours a combination of in-office and remote working. This applies to professionals, office workers, business owners and the self-employed, all of whom can perform their jobs remotely using technology and a wireless or fibre internet connection. Working full-time in the office environment is preferred by 9% of the respondents
Just over a third of South African workers (33%) anticipate that the future of work will be a mixture of the traditional 9-to-5 desk job and remote working; 24% prefer the option of mostly virtual working with some face-to-face interaction; and 27% opted for a wholly virtual place where employees can contribute from any location.
Given the results of this survey, it’s clear that digital skills development should be a priority in a world where innovative technology is entering the workforce and work-from-home continues to be the norm. Now is the right time for business owners to take the lead on skills development in order to maintain a talented staff.