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Can Big Data Help Bridge the Workplace Skills Gap?
April 22, 2016 News


A significant aspect of business success involves leveraging resources to bridge gaps. Business gaps are cyclical and almost expected in the enterprise world, but not all organizations are able to build bridges to overcome these obstacles; for some companies, a business gap may become problematic enough to become a permanent bridge or divide.

The great digital shift in the enterprise world shows no signs of slowing down; some analysts believe that we are at the beginning of a cycle that will last through the end of the decade. The numerous benefits of this digital shift are being somewhat weighed down by an expansion of a gap in employee skills; this gap results from the business need for digital skills outgrowing the capabilities of the workforce. Case in point: the United States, where two-thirds of companies report that they are having a hard time filling certain positions with qualified job seekers, particularly in the technology and health care sectors.

Companies that are unable to bridge the digital skills gap tend to be affected from a competitive standpoint. Understaffed organizations are at risk of falling behind the curve and allowing their competitors to come away with market share. To bridge this gap, companies need to leverage the benefits of Big Data, analytics, and adequate training.


Identifying the Digital Skills Gap

Skills can be learned, taught and developed. The first step is to correctly identify missing skills, which can be gleaned from the analysis of key performance indicators (KPIs) at an individual level. These KPIs have been defined by Big Data applications over the last few years, and they have been classified by business sector at the macro level. In many cases, digital skills are deficient simply because corporate training does not teach them.

One common KPI that can be found across industries is the Employee Core Competency Profile, which can be assessed in most office settings. The results of this profile assessment determine the extent of competencies in individual workers. Enough KPIs have been developed across sectors for companies to pick and choose for the purpose of determining what skills are missing or lagging within their staff


Recruiting Based on Skill Sets

The practice of hiring new employees based on their diplomas is outdated. Big Data analysis suggests that traditional education systems are not keeping up with the challenges presented by the digital skills gap. More than anything, academic degrees these days indicate the potential for on-the-job learning.

One problem that many companies face in relation to digital skills is that hiring managers are not sure about the positions they seek to fill, and this is something that can be solved with Big Data gleaned from the field of human resources; the KPIs to watch in this case include: demographics, performance, training completed, cultural background, and cross-sector mobility. By looking at these KPIs, organizations can make informed decisions about who they really need to hire.

What is important to remember here is that non-cognitive skills must also be considered, which essentially means that candidates must possess traits that show they actually want to learn new digital skills.


Training and Development

Big Data analytics is most helpful in identifying when and how companies are able to teach current staff new skills. Most training these days is data-driven and can therefore be delivered via various tech tools and devices, which is a major benefit to companies because it offers great convenience and flexibility.

Once the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of employees are assessed through KPI analysis, developing training programs and tracking their effectiveness should be easier; the key is to remember that effective training means creating programs that are personalized and engaging.


Future-Proofing Digital Skills

As previously discussed, the digital shift in the enterprise world is here to stay. For those companies in dire need of skilled workers, the future may start today with adequate staffing, but it should also continue with constant training.

With Big Data, organizations can glimpse into the future of the digital shift by following recommendations made by analysts. At this time, the forecast suggests that companies should invest in the development of their human resources, which means training sessions will need to be more frequent and more personalized.


The State of Enterprise Big Data Today

Big Data is not exclusive to scientific projects or to government organizations. A 2015 study by the Internet Data Group revealed that Big Data solutions have been embraced by 80 percent of large companies and more than 60 percent of small businesses.

Taking prompt action to bridge the digital skills gap is crucial for companies that wish to stay in business at least through the end of the decade. Until the traditional education system can catch up with the enterprise world, it will be up to companies to adopt and deploy Big Data solutions to bridge the gap.

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