How do you meet the need for digital expertise?
Published on 23/06/2022 in Inspire
4.8 million working Belgians will have to make a digital transition at some point in their career. So there is a real need for digital expertise. How can Belgian companies meet that need? Agoria experts Jeroen Franssen and Mathilde Muller explain.
In the context of digital transformation, companies need employees with different, new skills. “This is not just about very specific ICT skills, such as artificial intelligence (AI) or software development,” says Jeroen Franssen, Senior Expert Talent, Labour Market & Organization at Agoria. “There is also more need for employees who can work competently with digital devices and applications in their job, in addition to personal skills such as interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity.”
Identify competencies and roles
The difficulty is that the maturity of companies in this area is by no means the same everywhere. “Not every sector and every company has reached the same level of digital transformation,” says Mathilde Muller, Expert Training & Development at Agoria. “As a company, it is especially important to identify which competencies are required in the context of digital transformation.” The company must then define the right new roles for this. “The big challenge there is to get employees who don't yet have much experience with the use of IT,” said Muller.
As a company it is important to keep track of the technological innovations in order to remain competitive. With the help of a self test, you are able to map out the capacities of various domains.
Companies should not focus on technology, but on their human capital.
Mathilde Muller, Expert Training & Development at Agoria
4.8 million Belgians are going digital
There is a real need for digital expertise. Agoria estimated that there are 208,000 digital experts working on the Belgian market. In addition, it is estimated that an additional 59,000 digital experts will be needed by 2030. “There are 4.8 million working Belgians who will undergo a digital transformation in their careers,” Franssen continued. “We need to prepare for that now. In education, for example, this requires a new approach.” Just about everyone has to learn to deal with a work environment that is at least partly digital. “And that takes a lot of training.”
Not working harder, but working more comfortably
According to Agoria, however, we have no choice. “Productivity has always been high in our country,” said Franssen, “but it is now stagnating.” Digital transformation offers us the opportunity to further increase productivity levels, so that we don’t allow ourselves to be overtaken by other countries. “Although companies come up with good digital solutions, they still don't always use them optimally,” Franssen explained. “There is still room for improvement. Digital transformation ensures that we don’t have to work harder to be more productive, but that we can work more comfortably.”
Anticipatory learning as a way of motivating
The right support is essential. “Companies need to dare to take the more long-term view,” said Muller. “They have to focus on their human capital. When they understand what this means for their organization and where they want to go in the future, they will be in a better place to provide the right guidance and support.” In future, the training of employees will make more of a difference than ever. “It's all about anticipatory learning,” Franssen explained. “That keeps employees motivated.”
In this context, Agoria employs the 70/20/10 model. Employees focus 70% of their time on their main tasks. 20% of the time is allocated to facilitating work, for example assisting a colleague. They spend the remaining 10% preparing for a future role in the company. But perhaps that isn’t enough. The context of Industry 4.0 is evolving very quickly, which means that an organization cannot develop all the necessary expertise in-house. “At that point, the solution is to engage external experts,” said Muller. “They bring with them competencies that raise the level of the company.”
External expertise – for example, from freelancers or outsourcing partners – brings these additional competencies into a company in a less formal structure.
Jeroen Franssen, Senior Expert Talent, Labour Market & Organization at Agoria
Practical implementation in ecosystems
The use of external expertise – for example, from freelancers or outsourcing partners – brings these additional competencies into the company in a less formal structure. “You have to see it as a more practical approach,” said Muller. “Even though it's not formal training, our own employees still learn a lot.” The use of external experts is also in harmony with the evolution in which companies collaborate in ecosystems, and the traditional boundaries between companies are becoming increasingly blurred in some areas.
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Of all the skills that an employee needs in 2022 – digital or otherwise – one stands out above the rest: active self-development. “Of course, the company must provide the right learning environment,” said Muller, “but, at the same time, the employee must also take responsibility.” Franssen: “Lifelong learning – or, as I call it, continuous curiosity – is the message. This has to be done with an eye to the future and must always be based on the individual's own interests.” The trick is to provide the right framework.
Purpose and well-being are key
“It's not just about the right leadership,” said Muller, “but also about purpose and well-being.” Through all these facets, the company safeguards its human capital. Too often, companies in the ICT sector still focus on technology. “In the future, things will have to be different,” said Franssen. “We achieve more by putting people first. Improving our health, eradicating poverty, and streamlining our mobility – technology helps us achieve all this. But the thing that will help us most in these areas is letting people and companies work together to achieve a common goal.”
Jeroen Franssen, Senior Expert Talent, Labour Market & Organization at Agoria.
Mathilde Muller, Expert Training & Development at Agoria.