We’ve heard about the impending digital skill shortage for years, how “demand is outstripping supply” for pretty much every Salesforce role, in all regions of the world.
While talent supply does appear to be increasing globally, the rate of supply growth decreased from 29% in 2020 to 23% in 2021 (source: Salesforce Ecosystem Talent Report, 10k Partners). In short, the overall gap between supply and demand is widening.
Figures from the same report by 10k Advisors visualize the changes in supply and demand for the most recent year-on-year period:
One reason why we’re all aware of the Salesforce skill shortage is due to Salesforce’s initiatives to bridge that gap. No doubt you’re familiar with at least one (if not all) – Trailhead, Pathfinder, Salesforce Military, Talent Alliance, Trailblazer Connect – and that’s not including the programs run by other organizations in the ecosystem.
There’s a recognized challenge. But how can we go about putting this skill deficit into perspective? In which regions could the gaps be most stark?
Introducing the “Salesforce Index”
Salesforce has come up with a way to quantify digital skills and tech readiness. The “Digital Skills Readiness” score takes the following measures into account:
- Preparedness: how prepared with workplace skills.
- Access: how equipped with resources to learn.
- Participation: actively learning/training on digital skills.
This inaugural report brings together findings reported by 23,000+ individuals from the workforce and prospective workforce, located across 19 countries. Highlights include:
- The Global Index is 33 (out of 100).
- 76% do not feel ready for a digital-first work world. Only 28% are actively involved in digital skills learning and training.
- There are significant “digital readiness” gaps between countries. The higher the number, the higher the “readiness”. Based on data reported by individuals, India leads with 63 on the index, while surprisingly, Japan comes last, with 15.
- Other front-runners are Brazil (53), Mexico (47), and Argentina (41).
- Other laggards were European countries, and Australia.
Explaining Regional Differences
The significant differences between nations may appear puzzling – after all, digital jobs and training have existed across the globe for some time.
The leaders in digital skills readiness are economies that have been extremely successful in delivering IT services to nations all over the world. As such a prevalent industry, no doubt this inspires others to pursue a career in IT services and development.
Interestingly, the first IT off-shoring happened during the Y2K Bug panic. Many US-based organizations (including Government bodies) relied on software that used COBOL heavily; luckily, many Indian IT professionals were COBOL-skilled, and thus supported in rewriting legacy code.
Focus on future skills
Some countries’ educational systems place a great emphasis on technology-related disciplines, as opposed to the traditional humanities (subjects), which continue to be popular across Europe and English-speaking nations.
Remember, this is self-reported data based on individual perspectives and attitudes. Patterns of culturally-embedded response bias could influence results, such as:
- Socially-desirable responding, or positive response bias (agreeing with survey items regardless of content) – the potential to inflate the index.
- Negative response bias (disagreeing with survey items regardless of content) – the potential to depress the index.
What We Should Focus On
While we may have jumped to compare the difference between countries, if we take a step back, we’ll see that there’s a more pressing message the report delivers.
The goal of the research is to uncover the global digital skills gap all countries face. Every nation has significant work to do to ‘move the needle’, and increase the tech-readiness of their workforce.
This leads to slicing the data in other ways:
- Every day technology, versus workplace technology skills: Which skills we absorb from everyday life, versus which skills organizations will demand in the future.
- Generational differences in attitudes: Who is actively learning/training on digital skills, comparing Baby Boomers with Gen Z, especially.
The findings below are highlights from the report. You can do your own digging through the Digital Skills Index Dashboard which, built using Tableau, offers a wealth of data (you could spend a long time slicing and dicing!).
Every Day Digital Skills vs. Work Skills
There is a gap emerging between the digital skills we absorb from everyday life, versus which skills organizations will demand in the future.
64% of all Gen Z respondents say they have advanced social media skills (digital mastery of an everyday digital skill), however, less than a third (31%) believe they have the advanced digital
workplace skills needed by businesses now.
Then, according to the Salesforce Index, skills in collaboration technology are viewed as the most important digital workplace skill for workers today and over the next five years. Despite everyday encounters with collaboration technology (like social media), only 25% of respondents rated themselves advanced in those collaboration technology skills needed specifically for the workplace.
Generational Differences in Preparedness and Learning
Who is actively learning/training on digital skills? How do they predict their skills will shape up in five years time?
When comparing the two ends of the generational spectrum – it’s no surprise that we see significant differences between what Baby Boomers reported, and Gen Z. Evidently, Baby Boomers don’t expect to be in the workforce far into the future, which is the “future” drop-off is expected. Gen Z, on the other hand, are only just edging into working age.
Taking an optimistic viewpoint, the Gen Z results do mean the youngest generation are moving towards better preparedness, in order to close the supply/demand gap. The Salesforce Index also reveals that younger respondents have the greatest confidence and ambition to learn new skills – around one-third of Gen Z is actively learning and training for skills needed over the next five years compared to 12% of Baby Boomers.
There is a slight jump in confidence for the future for Gen Z, when it comes to having the resources, and the opportunity to be actively developing technology skills. Only time will tell if the outcome of their training will increase their “preparedness” – let’s hope!
Prepared with digital workplace skills:
- Baby Boomers (now 28% | future 21%)
- Gen Z (now 45% | future 44%)
Equipped with resources to learn digital workplace skills:
- Baby Boomers (now 17% | future 12%),
- Gen Z (now 31% | future 33%)
- Baby Boomers (now 15% | future 12%),
- Gen Z (now 35% | future 37%)
Reminded frequently of the impending digital skill shortage, there’s no doubt that Salesforce professionals, like you and I, will have a thing or two to say about these statistics.
Underneath the headline survey data, we hear the occasional anecdote about already skilled professionals not being able to secure employment. The stories I’ve heard have been related to Salesforce job roles where the supply is saturating the demand in some regions. While the data gives us a bird’s-eye view, the situation may not be as bleak at a macro level, for the time being.