Workers aren’t getting enough training in much needed digital skills with two in three workers saying they’re not confident existing workplace training programs will meet their future career needs, a new survey has found.

For its Building Digital Skills for the Changing Workforce Amazon Web Services (AWS) commissioned AlphaBeta to ask thousands of employees and employers in the Asia-Pacific region about how they ranked when it came to digital skills.

Unfortunately, the picture is not good.

“A digital skills training shortfall exists today,” the report said.

“Although 97 percent of organisations see a need to train their workers on digital skills, only 29 percent have implemented a plan to do so.

“The majority of organisations are not investing sufficient resources to achieve the amount of training they say is required.”

For workers, the outcome is a lack of career growth as their skillset gradually fails to match market demands.

And for organisations, the shortfall in training makes it harder to access the tech talent they need to compete in an increasingly digitised economy.

“This training shortfall is concerning, particularly with two-thirds of workers in the region admitting that they are not confident that they are gaining digital skills fast enough to meet their future career requirements,” the report stated.

Barriers to training

Part of the problems the report identified are perceived barriers to training, particularly in the form of limited awareness of how they can improve digital skills, and a lack of time to do so.

Iain Rouse, director & country leader, Worldwide Public Sector, ANZ at AWS told Information Age it’s time for a reset with how we go about digital skills training, given the enormous volume of potential courses to take and training pathways to head down.

“There’s a risk that the training looks so difficult and fear-inducing that we don’t get started in the first place,” he said.

“Just get started. Ask yourself how much time you have to invest each week into lifelong learning. If you have an hour, maybe you can find a short course.

“But if you’re out of the workforce and have a few weeks or months then you can get stuck into a longer course and demand a much bigger salary.”

As far as which skills are most in-demand, cloud infrastructure and cyber security is at the top once again, followed by technical support and digital marketing skills, and the likes of artificial intelligence and software development.

Upskilling the workforce

Kate Pounder, CEO of the Tech Council of Australia – of which AWS is a member – said the report further highlights the appetite among workers and employers alike for more training of all types.

“The tech sector is one of the most diverse, flexible and well paid across the Australian jobs landscape,” she said.

“We want all workers to have the opportunity to reskill into a career in tech or upskill into new digitally focused roles.”

So how can this skills challenge be addressed?

The report has a host of recommendations for governments such as by promoting micro-courses and credentials and by providing financial support for training organisations.

But it also recommends targeting different demographics in order to reach people who might be underserved by current training programs.

Rouse said there were two cohorts of people which AWS was looking at reaching through its own training programs: people who are returning to the work after a hiatus – such as primary caregivers – and those who were displaced by COVID-19, like workers in the hospitality and tourism industries.

“We’re seeing the demand for people who are displaced from the economy by, for example, setting high priority decisions about family, who say they want to get back into the workforce and need upskilling,” he told Information Age.

“There are also people in those disrupted sectors who have an interest in IT and are looking to enter the post-COVID economy in a completely different role.”

ACS provides members with access to a library of online video training content through Skillsoft which cover topics such as machine learning, cloud infrastructure, security, and software development.