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Bridging the Skills Gap: Empowering Digital Transformation through Apprenticeships and Cultivating a Learning Culture

by - ThoughtFocus | September 25, 2023 |

To scale digital transformation, a learning culture within businesses and IT is crucial for hiring, retaining, and up-skilling talent. This post discusses an approach to learning culture, imparting digital innovation via digital IT apprenticeships and tech apprentice programs, ways to implement an apprentice model, and the benefits it can bring to a company.


Digital transformation requires developing the right skills and behaviors to drive a business’ products and services, not just updating systems and technologies. The demand for digitally skilled employees in areas like DevOps, UX design, mobile apps, web security and infrastructure has outstripped the supply. The digital skills gap is exacerbated by the focus on hiring highly trained experienced candidates, leaving younger generations without opportunities to break into the industry. To bridge this gap, tech should fashion itself as a pioneer by opening up careers in tech to all and providing accessible digital education. The younger generation will likely adopt this approach to drive the tech scene to global success and perhaps adopting an apprentice model can help benefit an organization’s upskilling initiatives.


Let’s look at few statistics –

  • As per Gartner, 58% of the workforce needs new skills to get their jobs done.
  • Lack of agility and innovation. Especially in IT, executives cite talent shortages as the biggest barrier to the adoption of 64% of emerging technologies, per Gartner 1.
  • More than 85 million jobs globally could be unfilled by 2030, without enough skilled people to take them, according to consultancy Korn Ferry 2 — resulting in an $8.5 trillion loss from unrealized annual revenues. Also, companies need to be open-minded, imaginative, and action-oriented to succeed in digital transformation.



Imparting real-world learning via Apprenticeships and Upskilling

A learning culture in IT involves constantly learning new concepts and applying them to real-world situations. This is the default mode of behavior, and the distinction between training and skills development is often overlooked.


To combat this, business and IT leaders should create a process that allows people to innovate and advance their careers using the apprentice model which facilitates upskilling. To incubate an apprentice model, business and IT leaders should make apprenticeship a part of their professional development plan, create programs that enable group-based skills-development opportunities, establish a community around skills development and learning, and encourage participation in skills-development communities. While cross-functional Agile teams should promote mentorship, cross-training, and pair programming as standard practices.


Apprenticeships are a potent tool in addressing the shortage of digital skills. They are not new, but they have become more accessible to anyone, allowing them to train geography graduates to be business analysts and chemists to be cyber security professionals. This has led to a significant response in the supplier community, with both new market entrants and incumbents expanding and upgrading their apprenticeship programs across diverse tech areas to become -a data analyst, business analyst, cyber security engineer, software tester, and degree-level IT apprenticeships, etc.


Overall, a learning innovation culture in businesses and IT involves upskilling – constantly developing new skills and applying them to real world problems, rather than just training for the sake of it. By encouraging apprenticeships and implementing the apprentice model, IT and other business leaders can invigorate, create great IT teams that are constantly developing new skills and applying them to solve practical problems, fostering a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and skill development.


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External sources: 

1. Gartner Survey Reveals Talent Shortages as Biggest Barrier to Emerging Technologies Adoption 

2. The $8.5 Trillion Talent Shortage (