As exciting as the digital revolution is for business, we’re on the cusp of a digital skills crisis in Australia.

According to Salesforce’s Global Digital Skills Index, the majority of Australians are woefully unprepared to meet the digital demands of the workplace with 83 per cent unequipped to learn the skills needed now, and even more (88 per cent) don’t feel prepared to learn the skills required for the future.

Looking ahead, just 12 per cent of employees are considering an active commitment to learning or training over the next five years – exacerbating the digital skills shortage and putting a handbrake on local sector growth.

To close the digital skills gap and prepare the workforce for new jobs, businesses need to reimagine their role as people builders (or people developers or skills developers), by fostering a culture of continuous learning, providing access and pathways to upskill in digital capabilities, and partner with community stakeholders to scale their digital skills programs.

Create a new mindset of continuous learning

According to recent research, 3.7 million workers will be required to learn more digital skills to keep up with job changes brought on by COVID-19, with 62 per cent saying they will need to be trained in cloud-related skills to be able to move forward in their careers.

To provide workers with opportunities to upskill, businesses need to cultivate a workplace culture of continuous and life-long learning.

That starts by challenging stereotypes that one generation is more prepared for digital-first jobs than another.

For example, while younger generations often have more vital everyday digital skills such as social media and web navigation, they quickly rate themselves as ‘beginners’ for several important workplace digital skills such as data science, data visualisation and coding and app development, which are needed to drive positive economic and societal impact.

To ensure workers are equipped with the skills needed to meet the future's digital demands, they need access to platforms that enable them to upskill in job-ready specific skills.

By using Trailhead, a free to access online platform that anyone can use, workers can upskill in in-demand skills needed for the future such as data analytics, coding, and app development.

Blaze Your Trail, a social enterprise, is an example of an organisation that is enabling people to upskill via Trailhead.

It provides people from refugee and migrant backgrounds with access to online learning modules to upskill in digital capabilities as well as hands-on work experience, helping them to get a head start in the workforce.

Partner with government, industry and non-profits

Today’s businesses need a workforce skilled in the latest digital capabilities who understand and can drive digital transformations at scale.

We’re already seeing significant demand for people skilled in emerging technologies, with IDC finding almost a quarter of jobs created in Salesforce’s customer base in Australia over the last year leveraged critical digital skills such as automation and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The report found demand for these workers is set to continue to grow, forecasted to create 104,400 new jobs and AU $48.6 billion in new business revenues by 2026.

Data like this demonstrates the increasingly vital role the technology sector must play in helping close the digital divide which is holding back parts of our society and economy, by partnering with government and community stakeholders to scale digital skills programs and make them accessible to everyone.

Make digital skills a long-term business-wide commitment

As new advanced innovations diffuse every aspect of business and our lives, ensuring digital confidence in workers is essential to ensure continued progress within our country, and make everyone feel that they have a place in today’s digital economy.

When skills training is accessible to everyone and workers feel equipped with the digital skills for the future, we can unlock new growth opportunities and address upcoming challenges – whether they are pandemics, economic shocks or sustainability related.

Our new digital-first world revolves around everyone having the skills to participate and succeed.

Building a long-term commitment to bridge the digital skills gaps is fundamental to our future success.

John Moran is the Area Vice President for Industries at Salesforce and is a 30-year veteran of the enterprise software industry.

This content has been written by a topic area expert and is not a sponsored post or advertisement.