Digital leadership strengthens your competitive edge
Published on 24/06/2021 in Inspire
Just integrating digital technology doesn’t cut it when it comes to digitally transforming a business. Employees’ digital skills are also a prerequisite for success. Interview with Ulrich Petré, VDAB Digitization Expert.
How important are digital skills in today's job market?
Ulrich Petré, VDAB Digitization Expert: “Digitization is everywhere. We watch digital TV, bank on our smartphones, you name it. Digitization is on the rise in the jobs we do too. What certain duties and jobs entail is changing, and the importance of digital skills will only increase from here on out.”
“The pandemic had an indisputable impact on that. Before, not every sector was equally up to speed in terms of digitization. Companies and industries that were lagging slightly have begun to catch up, spurred on by the coronavirus. For so many, digital solutions suddenly became the only option left. Anyone still lacking the skills to navigate these is now at risk of getting left behind.”
A recent VDAB/Agoria survey showed that 39.2% of the Belgian working population scores below the basic digital skills level. So, what does that basic level entail?
“Essentially, anyone who achieves the basic level can participate in the job market. In our view, digital literacy is a key component of a broader human skill set – along with social skills, the ability to adapt to change, and brainpower – needed to distinguish someone from a machine. It's about being able to work with a smartphone or PC, having an email address, looking something up online, and using applications like Google Maps or Teams. You've got to be able to think from a digital world perspective and be able to look up and process information online.”
“There are several reasons why four out of ten Belgians do not achieve the basic level. Some people just don't have a device. Others have one, but don’t know how to use it and are afraid to ask for help. Plus, there are also those who deliberately refuse to participate in the digital society.”
Proximus conduces to a better digital life for all
Digital leadership requires the development of a digital learning culture, where everyone has the chance to continually update their digital skills.
Ulrich Petré, VDAB Digitization Expert
How can we get companies to close the digital divide?
“To stay competitive as a company, you've got to invest in digital leadership. A company’s digital transformation – the topic on everyone’s lips right now – is only possible when all employees are digitally on board. That means that just relying on technology won’t do the trick; employees are also an indispensable link in the chain. At the same time, companies can’t afford to lose sight of their customers’ digital levels either. Go strictly digital and those four out of ten Belgians from the study might drop out, causing your company to miss out on a lot.”
“For that reason, you need to develop digital leadership, drawing everyone into the digital narrative – employees and customers. To do that, you must instill a digital learning culture. That includes mapping the current digital skills and creating a roadmap based on the targets you want to achieve. And for the record, that’s not just the purview of the HR department. The whole company has to be involved. Moreover, it’s about looking at it not as a one-off exercise, but rather an ongoing learning process.”
How can digital training courses and e-learning help?
“E-learning is never an end in itself; it's only a means. We use it to support employers. Companies first have to identify which digital skills their employees lack. The learning content is then adapted to that. It’s only then that you find out what the best learning channel is. E-learning is often just one option among many. Besides, online learning isn’t the ultimate goal of a course either. It’s after the course that the real change happens, when the employee applies their new skills in practice.”
Lecot, a wholesaler in the construction sector, uses training and education for a shorter time-to-market when launching new products.