Companies urged to do more to help create a digital workforce

Australia’s National Centre for Vocational Educational Research (NCVER) has urged employers to do more to prepare for a digital future of work.

In a report, Skilling the Australian workforce for the digital economy, NCVER found preparedness for a digital future was highly varied between workplaces.

NCVER managing director, Simon Walker said: “This new report focuses on the skills impact of increasing digitalisation and shows that employers are often only adopting digital technologies gradually and in a restricted manner.

“This is due to several factors, including a lack of basic digital skills in their workforce and the perceived costs of digital upskilling.”

A workforce with appropriate digital skills is a crucial component of Australia’s ability to compete globally.

The research highlights that a multi-faceted approach from the Australian Government and industry stakeholders is required to enhance digital skills development in the general workforce.

To facilitate this, the authors have developed a digital skills framework, to help identify digital skills gaps within organisations and to assist in the development of training programmes.

Three types of Australian enterprise were identified:

# Aggressive technology adoption and skills-development approach

# Keen technology adoption but cautious skills-development approach

# Appreciation of growing need for digital skills, but no investment in skills development

NCVER found: “More than half of the industry survey respondents were not satisfied with the digital skills of their vocational education and training (VET) graduate recruits and had concerns about the adequacy of VET qualifications in meeting industry skill requirements.”

Analysis found content is mostly pitched at low levels of basic digital literacy, or was elective.

“Employers in this research showed strong concern about the future availability of workers with sufficient digital skills.

“Despite this, many are not proactively developing a clear strategy for, and investing in, their future digital skills needs across their workforces.”

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