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It’s well-established that Australia is currently in the midst of an unprecedented digital skills shortage—and that this shortage is impacting companies’ ability to execute their digital transformation initiatives. In fact, according to KPMG’s Global Tech Report 2022, 46% of Australian respondents cite a lack of talent as their biggest digital transformation challenge.

Not only are tight labour conditions expected to persist into 2023, per a report by Macquarie Bank, the National Skills Commission recently added the following 10 job titles to the list of occupations facing national skills shortages:

• ICT Business Analyst
• Systems Analyst
• Web Developer
• Analyst Programmer
• Database Administrator
• Computer Network and Systems Engineer
• Network Administrator
• Network Analyst
• ICT Quality Assurance Engineer
• ICT Systems Test Engineer

Despite these challenges, digital transformation (DX) is so critical to both short-term and long-term success that organisations can’t afford to fall behind. To that end, we'll discuss several strategies for driving DX in a digital skills shortage in this guide.

Maximise the value of your current resources

The right path forward for your organisation in this current climate depends on your existing skill sets. That’s why it’s important to begin with a thorough analysis of your team’s existing capacity, relative to the skill sets most needed to drive digital transformation.

Gartner, for example, identifies artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), and data science/data analytics as three areas experiencing growing demand (including by companies outside of IT). McKinsey also offers a list of 56 foundational skills for closing the digital skills gap if you’d like to undertake a deeper assessment.

Using these lists alongside any other particular skill sets that are relevant to your company’s needs, assess the competency and capacity of your existing team to see where gaps exist. Then, consider the following strategies for resolving these gaps if direct access to talent is challenging.

Upskilling and reskilling

It stands to reason that, in a tight labour environment, it’s in your best interest to hang on to your existing talent. That might involve either:

• Upskilling existing talent based on your technical skill set gaps (as well as team members’ capacity to grow into new areas)
• Reskilling team members entirely to focus on higher-priority areas

Interestingly, according to data compiled by PwC, 66% of employers expect to get ROI for upskilling and reskilling within one year, while 93% of CEOs who introduce upskilling programs see increased productivity, improvement in talent acquisition and retention, and a more resilient workforce. It may also allow you to keep IP in-house, rather than risk losing it to competitors looking to acquire your workers.

Retain employees with competitive compensation packages

Further, don’t underestimate the importance of developing compelling compensation structures to retain your existing talent.

To start, evaluate your current salary bands, relative to going market rates. If you can’t match market rates, look for unique fringe benefit opportunities. One study by Seek found that 24% of Australians report that employee benefits play a significant role in helping them decide where to work, independent of salary.

So can you offer flexible schedules, time in lieu, part-time hours, sabbaticals, or other non-traditional scheduling opportunities? Can you motivate employees to stay by offering professional development opportunities that let them learn and work on leading-edge technologies? Can you offer private health insurance cover? Any of these perks may be enough to make up for weaker salary offerings.


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Exploring alternative hiring models

If upskilling and reskilling won’t solve your technical skills gaps—and if you truly can’t develop competitive compensation packages—consider exploring alternative hiring models, such as managed services or professional services partnerships.

IT managed services can act as an extension of your existing team, taking on the responsibilities or core IT functions such as infrastructure management and Help Desk or helping to full a certain skills gap, where an MSSP can deliver highly specialised support in the form of 24/7 managed security services.

Alternatively, if you have a short term skills gap or project need then IT professional services allow you to keep delivering to your Digital Transformation goals while getting a temporary support from technical experts across IT consulting, data centre modernisation, network modernisation and digital workplace solutions.

Outsourcing certain responsibilities to a partner like Canon Business Services (CBS) means that you only pay for the specific skills you need. And because our team works on these types of projects every day, you’ll benefit from the expertise we’ve gained solving the same problems for organisations like yours.

Reduce required skill sets

Finally, as an alternative to maximising the value of your existing workforce, keep in mind that you can also carry out DX initiatives during a digital skills shortage by reducing the number of skill sets required to execute your initiatives.

• Can you prioritise cloud migrations and other network modernisation projects that enable you to operate more efficiently, either with fewer in-house resources or with a partner like CBS?
• Can you consolidate the number of third-party vendors in your tech stack so that you need fewer skill sets to keep them all running?
• Can you leverage automation or digitisation to a greater extent in order to free up your existing resources’ ability to focus more on high-value digital transformation initiatives? 

For help identifying opportunities like these within your organisation—or for support filling digital transformation skill sets you can’t acquire in today’s labour markets—contact the expert team at CBS for personalised support.

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