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Shaping the next generation of digital talent in the workforce

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Digital transformation is not just about adopting technology but also having the right people and processes

Looking back at 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has truly transformed the way we live, work and play within a short period of time.

Businesses have been forced to shift their operations online in order to stay afloat, and employees have had to adapt to a new working culture, and face a future where remote working remains the norm.

Every change is sparked by a catalyst, and the pandemic has undoubtedly been the nudge many companies needed to push digital transformation to the top of the agenda.

While most businesses know what they want to achieve through digital transformation, not everyone knows how to get there.

There remains a perception that digital transformation hinges on technology, but it actually depends on striking a perfect balance in terms of technology, people and processes.

People: The bridge between technology and processes

The first thing that comes to mind for digital transformation is technology adoption - but technology is not a silver bullet that magically helps businesses transform and reach their ultimate goal.

Without the right people and processes, businesses will not get far in their digital transformation journey.

The good news is people are more than willing to take on this challenge. According to a survey by Randstad Singapore, 86 per cent of respondents are motivated to upskill and reskill in the next 12 months.

Our internal Sparkline data also shows there is an increase in individuals taking the initiative to reskill themselves - there has been a 144 per cent increase in registration for digital courses compared with the beginning of last year.

Additionally, reskilling offers new opportunities for those seeking a mid-career change and a path to become part of the digital workforce.

According to the Ministry of Manpower, there are more than 12,000 jobs in the information and communications technology sector to help boost a growing digital economy in Singapore.

Many of the roles available are tech-lite, making them suitable for applicants with basic digital skills that can be easily acquired through supplementary courses and programmes.

Business to embrace the digital culture

A key factor to effective digital transformation is having the right tools and internal processes to support the upward mobility of talent.

And the responsibility to promote reskilling should not fall solely on the employees, but rather be a collective effort with a top-down approach, instilling a digital culture throughout the organisation.

Employers can create opportunities for staff to reskill and upskill by first identifying the skills needed to help elevate their business operations.

For instance, digital literacy training is on the rise and has become increasingly important in a data-driven business culture. In fact, a global Gartner report noted that data literacy will become an explicit and necessary driver of business value by 2023, meaning that employers must curate the suitable training programmes or deploy the right online learning platforms to achieve these goals.

Businesses also need to have the right platforms and technology in place to encourage employees to continuously learn and maximise their potential with newly acquired skills.

A strong data foundation coupled with the right implementation of technology and resources means businesses can elevate their operations and boost overall productivity.

At the end of the day, reskilling the workforce plays a huge part in supporting and building a sustainable business, as well as acting as a motivation factor for talent.

For businesses in Singapore to forge ahead, they have to have the right combination of technology and people to enable success. This is the nation's best opportunity to shape a new generation of future-forward companies.

The writer is the chief executive officer and founder of Sparkline, a homegrown consultancy pioneering in digital analytics.