Digital skills: disconnect between leaders and employees

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Few European companies feel prepared to embrace digital technologies, despite their workforces feeling optimistic about embracing these technologies, research by Accenture has found.

The global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company’s research found that only 34% of organisations feel well prepared in terms of recruiting digital skills, even though 45% cite lack of digital skills as the biggest barrier to becoming a digital business. Nine in 10 accept the importance of futureproofing.

The research also found that though 77% expect to be a digital business within the next three years, the majority (55%) do not have a digital strategy to support their overall corporate strategy. Sixty-one per cent say they do not want to be a digital leader in their industry.

Meanwhile, 57% of workers reported that new digital technologies such as robots, mobile apps, data analytics and artificial intelligence, will improve their working experience. Only 8% think it will make it worse. 

Half (50%) of EU workers believe digital technology will improve their job prospects compared to 12% who think it will limit them.

“Europe’s future competitiveness depends on digital skills and the disconnect between business leaders and their employees is worrying,” said Bruno Berthon, a managing director at Accenture Strategy.

“With employees positive about the impact of digital on their work, CEOs should begin to experiment with new digital talent strategies today as they develop longer-term plans. Companies cannot afford to wait and see, but must act now before competitors disrupt their markets with digitally-savvy workforces.”

The research also revealed that 72% of European business leaders think governments have a role to play in helping them reach their digital business goals, compared to half of US executives. But they don’t think policy makers are doing enough.

Employees in Spain and Italy are significantly more positive about the impact of digital on their working lives than those in the UK, Germany or France, the research found.

Sixty-nine per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds think technology will improve their work experiences, compared to 53% of those over 45. 

“Digital will play to different strengths in different people,” said Céline Laurenceau, a managing director at Accenture Strategy.

“The millennial generation may be more tech savvy, but older workers may be better attuned to new forms of collaboration, management and the provision of training. Employers need to ensure their digital talent strategies take these differences into account as they transform their workforces.”

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