The growing technical skills gap (AKA the distance between the skills your employees need and the ones they currently have) continues to be the number one concern for CEOs. According to PwC’s annual CEO survey, 74% of chief executives noted concern about their ability to close the gap — 32% of whom are “very concerned.”

CTOs and CIOs have also felt the pressure to close the skills gap for more than a decade. But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the urgency to maintain employees’ technical proficiencies and remain competitive has never been greater. McKinsey research expects the demand for coding and other technical skills to rise more than 50% over the next 10 years. 

The pressure is real, but there’s no need to panic. An analysis of course consumption in 2020 identified the tech skills critical to your success. Read on to discover what those skills are and how to ensure your teams acquire them.

How COVID-19 widened the tech skills gap

The pandemic has accelerated automation and digital transformation. This makes upskilling and reskilling the global workforce more important than ever. 

Without a workforce capable of tackling the tasks at hand, companies are stuck: stagnant and unable to expand. Skills gaps can have negative financial impacts, causing a loss of productivity and a loss of revenue. And they can also affect employees, causing low morale and high turnover. 

The end result? Skills gaps prevent your organization from offering customers what they want. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, when customer needs and preferences may shift from week to week, it’s especially important to keep up with demand. 

The tech skills teams need 

To close the technical skills gap, organizations must build plans to strategically upskill and reskill their workforce. Our 2021 Workplace Learning Trends Report identifies four categories of tech skills that emerged as crucial in 2020: 

The COVID-19 crisis makes digital transformation an urgent priority. The pandemic has shifted most resources and services online, from remote work to virtual events to telehealth. Every industry must prepare their workforces to keep up with this shift.

Agile learning is the answer to the technical skills gap

How to tackle the skills gap? An agile learning approach helps you get your workforce up to speed. Agile learning — like agile project management — is flexible and adaptable. That means it can adjust to changes in industries and organizations, and it fits into employees’ busy days. Agile learning is also especially helpful during times of crisis. 

Gartner recommends a three-phase COVID-19 renewal learning plan based on agile learning:  

  1. Respond: Organizations cope with disruption and prepare to reset. 
  2. Recover: The path towards a strategic reset becomes clearer. 
  3. Renewal: The strategy is defined and renewal plans are executed. 

Because a COVID-19 renewal training program must be designed before an organization fully knows what its upskilling or reskilling needs will be, agility is essential. 

7 ways to implement agile learning

Agile learning leverages seven techniques. These techniques aim to make it easy for employees to fit learning into their workdays and learn in ways that are effective for them.   

  1. Take a learner-centric approach: Help employees connect with their own motivation to learn. Make sure they understand how learning relates to business objectives. 
  2. Give employees permission to learn: Encourage your employees to take the necessary time to learn. Emphasize that it’s an important priority, not a secondary activity. 
  3. Offer on-demand microlearning: Provide employees with bite-sized units of learning to consume at their convenience. 
  4. Repurpose existing training programs: Adapt material to fit the needs of your learners. Shorten modules or combine content from different courses.
  5. Blend different kinds of learning: Offer a blend of microlearning, peer coaching, and on-the-job experience, like role shadowing.  
  6. Encourage social learning: Give employees the support of group learning; it will help them practice their new skills — and teach others. 
  7. Embed microlearning in the flow of work: Introduce microlearning in the context of day-to-day work so employees can quickly apply their new knowledge. 

Accelerate learning with a skills academy

In addition to applying agile learning methods, you can also support your learners with our Skills Academy guide. This interactive resource provides a framework for designing an effective in-depth learning program.