Closing the digital skills gap in the wake of COVID-19 | NTT DATA

Tue, 19 January 2021

Closing the digital skills gap in the wake of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption in the world of work and technology has really stepped in as the saving grace for businesses around the world. We are living through an unprecedented digital revolution, with technology relied upon for a vast array of functions, whether it is remote collaboration on Zoom calls or staying connected to customers via ecommerce platforms.

As the pandemic accelerates the rise of the digital economy, businesses are urgently working to ensure that their workforce is ready to maximise the value of technology. Connecting and nurturing these talented individuals will be crucial in the road to recovery after the pandemic. According to research from NTT DATA, over half of furloughed workers are already considering a career move. In fact, at the time of our survey, 13% were already actively reskilling to move industries and 16% of those seeking a new career were considering moving into technology, making it the most popular industry of choice.

STEM’s diversity problem

Despite the clear need for more people to help drive the sector’s growth, our research also pointed towards some large barriers to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths): almost half (43%) of furloughed workers believing that they are not qualified enough to work in the industry.

At NTT DATA, we recognise that building a workforce of people from multiple backgrounds makes us more creative, innovative, and by extension, more competitive. These obstacles to entering STEM continue to limit the diversity of the industry’s workforce. Clearly, businesses need to be doing more to invest in inclusive and accessible digital training for all.

Increasing opportunities

At NTT DATA, we put diversity and inclusion at the heart of what we do, and we want to address some of these problems head on.

In 2019, we announced a £68million investment into NTT DATA’s UK-based operation. It was a significant move that reflects our ongoing commitment to the UK market and our confidence that we have some of the best talent and technological innovation in the world. This investment will expand our own capabilities in order to accelerate the delivery of the latest technological innovations to industries in the UK. How we go about doing that is, of course, a complex question, but a big part of that investment is going into ramping up our recruitment.

We are hiring more people in software engineering and development roles as well as specialist technical and consultancy skills in AI, Big Data and DevOps among others. A lot of this work is being directed through new centres of excellence in London and Birmingham. It’s a huge undertaking but we really want to show where our investment is going, and our new Tech Academy programme forms a central plank of our recruitment strategy.

Taking a different approach

The first thing to say is, this isn’t a straightforward recruitment challenge. Our focus is on helping our customers accelerate their digital transformation and so it is essential that we have the right people with the right digital skills ourselves. The issue is that finding those people is no easy task.

The digital skills gap is a pressing problem around the world. The CBI published a

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