Prue Handwerk Partner Channel Marketing Manager, Partner Enablement
Nov 01,2021

Reimagining the Skills-based Economy

Not only has COVID 19 had a profound impact on health, environmental, social, and economic domains, but in the world of business, the need for digital transformation has accelerated. This means that companies developing and delivering tech solutions are faced with the moving target of needing resources having both existing and emerging skills in a market where there simply aren’t enough people to meet demand. So, while tech skills are critical to continued growth, the skills gap continues to rise.  

According to research done by Accenture on behalf of Microsoft, the Australian technology sector currently contributes around $167 billion annually and represents 8.5% of GDP, employing close to 900,000 individuals. However, the Tech Council of Australia predicts that by the year 2030, the IT sector’s GDP impact will grow to an estimated $250 billion, requiring at least 1.3 million people to be employed by the industry.  

Similarly, Deloitte Access Economics data estimates that Australia will need an additional 60,000 IT professionals every year to meet these demands. This is due to the increased digitisation, move to cloud infrastructure, continual importance placed on cyber security, and the high value of data analysis and artificial intelligence.  

In a country where despite a pandemic the unemployment rate is currently sitting at just 4.6%, finding talent to fill open roles whilst competing against all other companies in need of IT professionals will prove highly challenging and unsustainable. However, there are a few key things that organisations can do to help stand out from the pack. Below we summarise some fundamental recommendations and will elaborate on each in a four-part series delivered monthly. 

  1. Use company culture to recruit new talent 

Traditionally, recruiting and hiring were the domain of Human Resources departments, but in today’s digital marketplace, company leadership, reputation, and culture are key drivers in attracting the right talent.   

According to LinkedIn research, 70% of professionals would not work at a leading company if it meant they had to tolerate a bad workplace culture. But what constitutes a ‘good’ company culture?  

The requirements necessary to drive positive company culture include (a) establishing strong values and priorities that are consistently demonstrated, (b) having clear policies around diversity, inclusion, and flexibility, (c) highlighting and valuing creativity and innovation, and (d) ensuring employees have opportunities to develop new skills and capabilities. 

  1. Embrace diversity  

Diversity in the workplace is a business imperative for companies looking to grow, retain and attract the right talent.  

According to leading HR and learning industry analyst and researcher, Josh Bersin, not only do companies that embrace diversity and inclusion statistically outperform their peers, but those that with practices where managers are allowed to continue to recruit in their own image or remain focused on potential employees being a ‘good cultural fit’, will find their pool of talent to be limited and the culture of their working environment similarly constrained.  

To attract talent with new skills and fresh ideas, companies must remain open to things they aren’t necessarily familiar with; seeking talent across ethnic groups, experience levels, cultural backgrounds, faiths, orientation, and gender opens a breadth of knowledge, expertise, and experience that is proven to help companies outperform competitors. 

  1. Optimise the onboarding process 

While the goal of onboarding is to acclimatise talent quickly and reduce time to productivity, this stage is increasingly being recognised for its power to create a positive candidate experience and drive employee retention.  

Numerous studies show that having a well-structured onboarding process improves the overall satisfaction of new hires and lowers the chance they may depart prematurely. Across the board, new hires are most likely to quit within the first three to six months of employment, while the greatest risks to successfully retaining new cloud professionals in role occurs within the first two weeks of employment.  

Undoubtedly, a comprehensive onboarding experience will differ for each organisation. However, it is recommended that at a minimum, there should be (a) checklists of key onboarding tasks, and internal sites and systems needed to learn how to become a high-performance employee, (b) work files, documents and information from backend systems to promote new hire productivity from day one, (c) communication channels with key HR, IT and peer resource contacts complete with built-in social chats, discussion threads and conversations for immediate integration into the company, and (d) relevant training content to ensure that both the company compliance requirements are met, while key role requirements are learnt to optimize time to productivity. 

  1. Foster a culture of continuous skilling 

Enabling a culture of ongoing learning and development has been proven to result in workforces that are motivated to acquire new skills and the latest, in-demand certifications, which furthers careers and improves staff retention. Programs that help retain and retrain quality people can have a significant impact on business by increasing retention rates and helping maintain a consistent focus on company goals. 
At Microsoft, we invest heavily into our partner skilling programs, from quarterly bootcamps, training events and certification initiatives which you can access here

strategic view of what skilling options are available will help to drive a company learning culture, marked by well-structured and proactive training and enablement plans. Career development paths should also be well-articulated, as should the skills and attributes employees need to pursue those paths.  

Self-service options for continuous learning and ongoing certifications should be readily available and aligned to the organisation’s overall strategic business and growth strategy. Additionally, continuous learning programs across emerging digital technologies and other disciplines ensure that employees are kept up to date on new capabilities and use cases, and how these apply to their specific roles.  

It is estimated that global digital adoption brought on by the pandemic fast forward our need for technically skilled professionals by 5 years. All companies therefore need to be constantly asking themselves whether there is anything that could be done differently to enhance the desirability of not only joining the business, but also remaining a loyal, engaged employee. 

To help partners along this journey, we offer a range of resources, events and learning pathways through our recently launched Partner Skills Hub here, where you can stay up to date on the latest skilling initiatives. 

What are some of the things you can do in your workplace to make it a company that people want to work for?