Could hybrid working be the answer to the digital skills shortage?
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Millennial generation are ‘digital natives’, having grown up in today’s digital world. The reality, however, is very different. Most don’t possess vocational skills, such as web development, coding, or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) capabilities. It’s a cause of growing concern for many companies across the spectrum and a real challenge for employers when recruiting into tech roles.
A recent report commissioned by Workskills UK found that since 2015, there’s been a 40% decline in the number of young people taking IT-related subjects at GCSE level and only 48% of employers believe that young people are leaving education with the digital skills required of them in the workplace.
If you take the demand for robotics skills as an example, multi-national IT Consultancy, Accenture, reports it has jumped “dramatically” in several northern English cities since July 2020: robotics jobs are up 115% in Liverpool, 253% in Leeds and a huge 450% in Newcastle. As reported by the BBC, there’s been a digital acceleration in all sectors, creating new skills needs.
Is hybrid working one solution?
One solution could be to adopt the hybrid model of working on a permanent basis. Tech companies have all done things differently since the onset of the global pandemic. Some have decided on a ‘remote-first’ policy, which has allowed them to tap into a wider talent pool, without the limitation of a 30-mile recruitment radius from the office.
Others (including here at Corecom Consulting) have opted for the ‘office-occasional’ hybrid model where employees work both from home and in the office depending on the nature of the work required on that particular day.
Gensler published a report at the start of 2021 that stated 67% of UK workers would prefer a hybrid working model, spending anywhere between one and four days in the office each week. Companies already operating a hybrid model reported greater job satisfaction, higher levels of productivity, and improved mental health and wellbeing amongst staff. Rick Hughes, Commercial Director at Corecom Consulting said:
“We always strive to recruit the best talent for ourselves and our clients and we have decided to adopt the hybrid model. Many of our senior staff have young families. We’re confident that the greater flexibility this way of working offers will allow us to tap into a wider source of talent.”
“There is still need for physical office space even if it may well have to be re-imagined. Being in the office may also be of particular importance for young workers entering the world of work for the first time, who may require the additional support that only face-to-face interaction can provide.”
A win win situation?
Going forward, is adopting the hybrid model of working the best of both worlds? If it is, it can only enhance performance and boost employee retention. Companies still need to take action to help young people develop the digital skills that employers need with vital face-to-face guidance and training from experienced colleagues but balancing this with the benefits that working from home can offer.
The future office should be all about bringing people together, facilitating social interaction, inspiring creativity, growth, and creating a sense of belonging in employees. Just maybe, hybrid working is the answer.