Prioritising skills in the digital age

‘Digitalisation’ is on the march, and there’s no avoiding it. From the way people order our food to the way they travel, shop and communicate, digital transformation is at their fingertips, and will continue to develop and shape lives.

But what does this mean from a workplace perspective, and how can those companies driving digital change make sure they have a diverse range of people, skills and cultures in place to innovate and grow?

Software AG: Digital Transformation

The required skill-set

For an employee to perform in the workplace, they need a unique set of skills that makes them suited to the job. When considering technology companies, especially those looking to grow and innovate in today’s digital economy, these skills become more specialist and, consequently the people that have them, more challenging to find.

>See also: The next generation of programmers: Singapore’s digital skills drive

For example, there has been a 15% uplift in demand over the past 18 months for Ruby on Rails, Hybris and Go developers from a range of technology businesses. These front-end skills, which make it easy to build reliable and efficient software, weren’t even on businesses’ agenda a few years ago. Now clients are constantly on the hunt for those who will be able to help them expand and tackle technical challenges.

But through Arrows Group experience, non-technical skills are becoming just as important – those skills that govern an employee’s ability to communicate, form relationships, and prioritise tasks.

There’s more to a role than simply knowing how to do a job and do it well – it’s about working in tandem with the wider business and being able to collaborate with your colleagues.

The rise of soft skills in technical roles

As companies look to foster innovation and disruption to stay ahead of the competition, the need for greater diversity within teams increases. Whether that’s different genders, races, ages and skills-sets.

Diverse teams perform better. And in a disruptive environment, skills such as change facilitation and teamwork are as crucial as technical expertise. Those who can develop and maintain the necessary interpersonal skills to make collaboration work the way it’s supposed to across the business are worth more to a company than the sum of their collective hard skills – it’s just a matter of knowing how to find them.

>See also: Digital skills gap: How to prepare a generation for the modern workplace

Working with clients such as Just Eat, Arrows Group knows that to enable successful digital transformation requires not just one person with the right skills, but diverse teams that fit culturally, and will provide a strong talent pipeline in years to come.

In Just Eat’s case, we needed to find a range of technical, leadership and management talent to help them scale-up quickly. Using Arrow Group’s OneDay™ interview solution, which reduces the interview process to a single day though with multiple stages, it was able to fill more than 60 development, testing, and senior roles in just three months, making sure each and every candidate was engaged in their business from day one.

Finding the right people

So, how do employers access the right balance of hard and soft skills in the recruitment process? Testing for hard skills, like SQL, Ruby, Javascript and Python is straightforward. Businesses use certain programmes and tests that relate to that specific role, and clearly assess their suitability and past experience.

Soft skills, however, are a little more difficult. Many of these processes are underpinned by NLP principles to evaluate a candidate’s technical and cultural fit within an organisation.

Arrows Group assess their leadership, persuading and influencing skills, alongside more in-depth personality interviews which gives more steer on a person’s initiative, organisational skills and management experience.

>See also: HP opens UK learning studios to tackle the digital skills gap

Working with businesses to build teams, it is usual to hire a varied mix of technical developers with hard skills and project managers with soft skills, and of course it is necessary to access global talent base to help with this.

Western Europe, for example, has a greater pool of those trained in softer skills, whereas the more technical, front-end roles, are generally recruited from Eastern Europe or India.

This approach was effectively used for automotive data and software company Solera, which needed to produce a digital team of 20 in just three months across locations and with the right balance of soft and hard skills.

So what’s the solution?

For innovation and disruption to succeed, companies need to start thinking like global organisations, drawing on a diverse range of talent from around the world.

In doing so, they it’s important to find right balance of hard skills that foster digital development, alongside those soft skills that fit and engender the right culture and collaboration. Companies that fail to adopt this mind-set will struggle, but those that do will become the next global success story.


Sourced by from James Parsons, CEO, Arrows Group


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...