Digital Skills Index Shows 88% Aussies Don’t Feel Equipped For The Future of Work

Pamela Connellan
on 25 March 2022

The global leader in CRM – Salesforce – has released some Australian insights from its Global Digital Skills Index which show that 83% of Aussies don’t feel equipped to learn the digital skills needed by business right now and 88% don’t feel equipped for the future.

The research has found just 12% of Australian workers are actively involved in workplace digital skills learning and training programs, highlighting the growing digital skills crisis. The Digital Skills Index is based on responses from over 23,000 workers in 19 countries, including 923 respondents from Australia.

Australia scores below global average for digital readiness

The Index’s overall global score for digital readiness, assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access, and active participation in digital upskilling, is currently only 33 out of 100. The countries represented in the survey had scores ranging from 15 to 63 and saw Australia came out with a score 21. So this means we are behind the eight ball.

India scored the highest digital readiness score with 63 and 94% of respondents felt equipped for today’s digital skills-led workplace. Plus 72% of the Indians who answered are actively learning new workplace digital skills right now. In comparison, 85% of respondents from the United States feel equipped for digital skills needed in today’s workplace and this is reflected in its above average digital readiness score of 36.

A growing workplace skills gap emerges in the future workforce

Despite the perception that young people are digital masters, the majority of Gen Z label themselves as ‘beginner’ against a significant number of digital workplace skills needed by businesses now. This includes artificial intelligence (73%), encryption and cyber security (70%), data visualisation (70%), and data science and analytical skills (64%).

Gen Z is most competent in e-commerce and digital trade skills — which includes skills such as sales order management and payments to shipping and fulfilment services. In this area, 59% of Gen Z rated themselves as ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’.

Aussie women lag behind in digital preparedness for the workplace

The Index reveals 53% of Australian women feel confident with the pace of technology changes compared to 67% of men. The research also found 13% of Australian women are actively upskilling in the digital competencies which are needed now and 11% are upskilling for skills needed in the next five years.

It also highlights that Australian women are lagging behind their international peers with 80% rating their coding and app development skills as ‘beginner’. This is in comparison to 34% of women in the United States ranking themselves as ‘beginner’, while 72% of women in India identified themselves as ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’.

Pip Marlow Salesforce
Pip Marlow, CEO for Salesforce ANZ & ASEAN, says: “Every Australian deserves to be confident that they have a place in our digital economy…”

Pip Marlow, Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce ANZ and ASEAN said: This research has shone on light on Australia’s lagging readiness to participate in the digital economy. Our readiness is even worse when we put a lens on those who are poorly represented on the industry. Both women and regional Australians are lagging behind their peers.”

“Every Australian deserves to be confident that they have a place in our digital economy and that they have access to the skills to participate in the jobs of the future.”

Peter Schwartz, SVP, Strategic Planning and Chief Futures Officer, Salesforce said: “There’s a gap between the frontier of innovation and the skills necessary to use those innovations. That in itself, is not new. But what is new, is the scope of that innovation, how widespread it is, how it has diffused in every aspect of life. It is hard to do almost anything these days without some form of digital interaction.”

A growing digital divide as workers relocate to rural locations

As city-dwellers across the country pursue remote working opportunities and relocate to rural locations, it’s important that rural areas are not left behind when it comes to digital skills. The Index reveals a gap between rural and urban respondents’ participation to upskill in workplace digital skills, with 47% of rural respondents involved in learning these skills, compared to 61% of those located in urban areas.

Access is an issue in this divide, as 69% of rural workers do not feel equipped with the necessary resources to learn workplace digital skills needed now, compared to 82% of those based in urban locations.

The most important digital skills needed by businesses today

According to the Salesforce Index, skills in collaboration technologies such as Slack are viewed as the most important digital workplace skill for workers today and over the next five years. But despite respondents’ prowess with everyday collaboration technology such as social media, only 17% of Australians rate themselves as ‘advanced’ in these types of skills, needed specifically for the workplace.

Business has a critical role to play

Now more than ever, businesses have a responsibility to act to address the growing global skills gap. Salesforce is committed to investing in the future workforce through its set of workforce development programs, including:

  • Victorian Government’s Digital Jobs Program: this initiative, supported by Salesforce and industry, will enable 5,000 Victorians to re-skill, with participants provided with industry-backed training, followed by a placement in a digital role.
  • CareerTrackers is a national non-profit Salesforce partners which creates pathways for Indigenous young adults to attend and graduate university and gain industry experience.
  • Digital Career Compass is a joint Deloitte and Salesforce initiative aimed at Indigenous Australians, women returning to the workforce, and retired athletes, who will be provided with the training and technical skills to kick-start a career in technology.
  • Indigenous Technology Academy: AIME, PwC, Revolent and Salesforce have teamed up to provide young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with access to Revolent’s careers development program, training them to become Salesforce professionals over a one-year learning and development journey.
  • Pathfinder Training Program is a workforce development program which prepares individuals with the technical, business, and soft skills needed to pursue a career in the Salesforce ecosystem.
  • Salesforce Talent Alliance is an initiative that connects Salesforce partner companies to job candidates trained on Salesforce through Trailhead and brings new talent into the fast-growing ecosystem.
  • Trailhead is Salesforce’s free online learning platform which has helped more than 3.9 million people across the globe skill up for the future of work. In Australia and New Zealand, 1.22 million badges have been earned through the platform.
  • Trailblazer Community is a global network of 15 million people across the Salesforce ecosystem who help each other learn new skills and succeed with Salesforce.

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