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Three ways to bridge the digital skills gap

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Three ways to bridge the digital skills gap

Access to skilled workers is one of the most important factors in making your business successful. But in an increasingly data-driven future, accessing employees with the digital skills you need to succeed is going to become more and more competitive.

By 2020, there will be as many as 150,000 digital jobs created, while skills gaps are poised to grow with the fourth industry revolution. “Traditional businesses are transforming and need the right people to drive digital change,” says Ian MacArthur, Director of Global Experience Optimisation at digital marketing agency Sagittarius. “Many businesses believe they have embraced digital but simply being native is not enough.”

As the digital skills gap continues to increase across the West Midlands, here are three ways you can conquer this pertinent issue.


  1. Harness the latest technology

    To succeed, your business needs to have a truly digital attitude. According to the World Economic Forum, the companies that are successful will be able to “harness new and emerging technologies to reach higher levels of efficiency and expand into new markets.” While having access to cutting-edge technology is always desirable, it can be difficult financially to have such exposure if you’re a sole trader or an SME.

    However, Birmingham City University offer a host of projects and facilities that can help your business become immersed and knowledgeable in the latest technologies. For example, Dr Adel Aneiba runs the Birmingham in Real Time (BiRT) project, which gathers real-time data from across the region, provides it for SMEs to access and helps them to understand how to successfully implement it. The project allows SMEs and businesses the chance to plan for the future more effectively, by analysing and assessing data over certain periods to establish trends and growth. It also, vitally, cuts out expensive fees to third-party contractors.

    “I try to forge collaborations with industry as much as possible, as the University’s work is at its best when being applied to the real world,” says Alan Dolhasz, who helps run BiRT. “Helping businesses to solve problems and putting them with the right people really excites me.”


  2. Create a winning environment

    According to MacArthur, businesses are often mistaken when feeling they’ve cracked the world of digitisation. “Young people can sniff this out from miles away,” he says. “Be honest, transparent and, above all else, be porous – absorb the ideas, thinking and processes of others as this will not only transform your fortunes, but also make you very attractive to the most skilled emerging talent.”

    Furthermore, it’s all well and good when you’ve hired a talented, up-and-coming employee, but how will you retain them?

    Principally, it’s important to know where you can improve and the challenges you are facing. Sometimes, however, they may not be immediately apparent. Birmingham City University offer business consultations and workshops that are tailored to your needs – you will be presented with a detailed report on your business’ strengths and areas for enhancement, have access to business growth experts, and be exposed to new, creative ideas that will help your business develop.

    By getting your business in the right shape, you will create an environment where your employees can prosper and feel appreciated. In turn, this will help you to retain your talented young employees.

    “The idea is intensive assistance,” explains Mark Gilman, Professor of SME Growth and Development at Birmingham City University. “We form relationships with small businesses, understand their problems and outline how we can help. It’s not just about having one meeting. It’s a long-term partnership.”

  3. Hire employees for long-term growth

    If you’re an SME, it’s important to bring in employees who meet your demands and bring a plethora of skills. However, the market is viciously competitive – the Open University recently found that 94 percent of SMEs are struggling to recruit workers with the right skills. If you’re looking to make the right hire, Birmingham City University provide a free service matching student and graduate talent closely with SMEs’ skills requirements, saving time and ensuring we find the right digital skills for your business.

    By working closely with employers, we can also feedback SME and larger organisation skills-requirements, to ensure our graduates are equipped with the skills needed within real-life workplaces.

Want to access skilled graduates that will help you bridge the digital skills gap? Visit our Higher Level Skills Match page to find out more.

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