Highlight Report

America’s got talent—but you must cast a wider net to crack the digital skills crisis

December 17, 2021

The Bottom Line: Purpose, diversity, career mobility, and excellence in training will define winners in the battle for employees

For the first time in history, more tech roles are available in non-technology businesses than in technology businesses, indicating a demand for digital skills that’s more challenging than ever before.

The battle for the already-skilled is going to get expensive quickly. Exploring a broader and more diverse talent pool offers a win-win for ambitious new employees and the employers giving them a break—provided employers offer the training capabilities to benefit both parties.

HFS believes that a culture embedding inclusion as a core strategy, continuously accounted for, will open doors for innovation to flow from every employee level. Remote working has had hugely positive impacts on the effectiveness of diverse global teams, which have broken down historical boundaries between different cultures, backgrounds, racial origins, and sexual orientations. In 2022, the true meaning of “OneOffice” will be established as one team unified around a shared purpose.

The winners will provide excellent training, education, career mobility, and purpose to get the most out of their talent and build reputations for being rewarding and motivating places to work.

Infosys uses training and diversity to tackle The Great Resignation, setting out to close the digital skills gap the whole economy is struggling with while igniting upward career mobility for those stuck in lower-paying jobs.

Infosys President Ravi Kumar S told the Infosys Americas Leadership Forum that the lack of upward mobility in jobs in America was one of the biggest drivers of resignations this year. He noted 2021 had witnessed the highest resignation in the US since records began, with 6%–7% percent quitting their posts in some industries.

Smart people stuck in low-wage jobs, he suggested, is a major contributing factor to many leaving, and why 50% of Americans are now saying they want to be freelancers (a trend the pandemic only accelerated). The pandemic caused an epiphany for many, re-evaluating what they wanted from life and work. There was a backlog of resignations held back from the previous year. Many were burned out. Many wanted hybrid office–home flexibility. Many have exited the market altogether for a multiplicity of reasons—from realizing the value of spending more time with their families to wanting more control of their lives as freelancers.

Demand for digital skills is higher than ever seen before

The net result in the latest US data is 10.4 million open jobs with 7.4 million looking for work. And, in even worse news for enterprise leaders, there is a mismatch between the digital skills demanded and those available in the job market. Kumar stated that for the first time in history, more tech roles are available in non-technology businesses than in technology businesses, indicating a demand for digital skills, such as data analysis, design thinking, coding, UX and UI design, never seen before.

“We think we have cracked the code for upward mobility, and we are going to scale it. Nobody else is doing this,” said Kumar.

There are 50% of Americans without a degree. Infosys wants to hire people like hotel receptionists, retail checkout staff, and admin workers—people who may be stuck in roles and want to grow but don’t know how to take their next step. Infosys will train them and set them on a journey of personal growth not available to them before with digital “backbone” jobs and the opportunity for additional college units to progress their careers.

One upside for Infosys is reduced churn. Those coming into the business through the mobility route are more emotionally invested thanks to the training and support they receive and the offer of continuous personal improvement, says Kumar.

But let’s be clear; the 1,000 people Infosys is giving an upward mobility opportunity to in 2021 is the tip of a very large iceberg.

Hunger for capabilities will drive a boom in reskilling-as-a-service

In addition to its efforts to recruit from those stuck in their careers, Infosys is on course to have 25,000 US employees by 2022 and is recruiting 3,000 university graduates in the US in 2021. It is looking outside traditional technical and engineering degree routes to include more people with liberal arts backgrounds.

Infosys built an education center, also open to clients, on a 120-acre site in Indiana. It also built digital centers in Raleigh, Phoenix, Hartford, and outside Philadelphia, its latest center location.

Infosys says the industry-wide hunger for digital skills manifests itself in demand for design studios. Where ideation, hackathons, prototyping, proof of concept, creating a minimum viable product, and other aspects of digital R&D have typically been outsourced, Infosys has recently partnered with clients to insource such design studios in enterprises, embedding the skills required in the client organization. This kind of “reskilling-as-a-service” is set to boom in 2022, Infosys predicts.

President Ravi Kumar S is on a mission. Learn more from him in our recording of the December 9 HFS Great Resignation debate. And read more in this HFS blogpost about his passion for education in work, published earlier in 2021.

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