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PHOTO: TimeStopper

Do we have a global digital workplace skills crisis on our hands? According to a Salesforce study, absolutely.

Salesforce released its 2022 Global Digital Skills Index and found nearly three of four respondents worldwide say they don't have access to the resources needed to learn the digital skills necessary to thrive in the workplace now or in the future.

The numbers get more grim in even circles like social media. While most (83%) claim they have advanced or intermediate everyday social media skills, two-thirds say they're unprepared for the social media skills that the workplace will require over the next five years.

And if you think there's hope for the digital natives, there's this: Not even the majority of Gen Zers are reporting hope landing digital-first jobs: only 31% of Gen Z respondents feel “very equipped” for a digital-first job right now. Further, not many Gen Zers report “advanced” digital skills in areas like coding (20%), data encryption & cybersecurity (18%) and artificial intelligence (7%). 

The lack of workplace digital skills likely worries leaders in digital workplace circles, and should: 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of this year, and remote work opportunities will carry on through 2023. Remote work = digital skills required. Digital's at the very heart of working virtually and connecting with employees.

Collaboration Skills Woes Hurt Digital Workplace

What do digital workplace leaders believe are the most important skills?

  1. Collaboration technology
  2. Digital administrative
  3. Encryption and cyber security
  4. Ecommerce and digital trade
  5. Project management technology

However, it may be lonely at the top: only 25% say they are advanced in collaboration tech skills in the workplace. Can't Slack? Can't hop onto Microsoft Teams? Lacking skills in Google Workspace? No bueno for digital workplace success.

Even at the business-owner level, only 16% say they have “advanced” digital skills for operating technology that promotes sustainable business activities like tracing, measuring and analyzing climate data within an organization, according to the Salesforce index. And, only 14% say encryption & cybersecurity skills are particularly important, and only 14% report “advanced” knowledge of the subject.

“There’s a gap between the frontier of innovation and the skills necessary to use those innovations,” Peter Schwartz, SVP, strategic planning and chief futures officer for Salesforce, said in a report on the index. “That in itself, is not new. But what is new, is the scope of that innovation, how widespread it is, how it has diffused in every aspect of life. It is hard to do almost anything these days without some form of digital interaction.”

Related Article: Top Skills for the Hybrid and Digital Workplace

How Workplace Leaders Can Address Crisis

Salesforce got responses from approximately 23,000 workers in 19 countries around the world. Their combined global score for digital readiness? 33 out of 100. Salesforce measured that score using digital readiness, assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access and active participation in digital upskilling. And only 28% are actively involved in digital skills learning and training programs now.

They need help. Salesforce suggests the following action steps for digital workplace leaders to address the global digital skills crisis:

Harness Learning Communities

Harness potential and motivation of current employees to innovate through things like community forums. Salesforce recommends its Trailblazer community, but naturally there are tech communities in many arenas globally that focus on specific technologies.

Invest in Younger Generations

Younger generations want to get better, according to Salesforce. Help them get there. Across the globe, 36% of Gen Z and Millennials are “very actively” participating in learning and training, compared to only 22% of Gen X and 15% of Baby Boomers, Salesforce found.

Promote Training Programs Focused on Top Digital Skills

Don't rely on school curriculum to equip incoming workers with the necessary digital skills to thrive in the workplace. Recruiters need to focus less on established education programs and more on the “real world” digital skills, according to Salesforce.

"A newly digital-first world presents a major opportunity for companies to rethink what agile teams look like," Salesforce officials said. "By building training programs based on what workers believe will make them most successful in the workplace, companies can create a flexible working culture that empowers all employees to connect, learn, and progress from anywhere."