Not only since the pandemic did many people feel that they needed new skills. Practically overnight, a large part of the population was digitized to an extent that creates a long-term sensitivity for new needs on the job market.
The majority of German companies stated in a survey by the digital association Bitkom at the end of 2020 that digitization had become more important for their own company due to the corona crisis. Half of under 30s (51 percent) in Europe think working remotely has made them more productive. This was the result of a survey by the companies Sharp and Microsoft.
In addition to soft skills such as self-organization, reliability, the ability to work in a team and flexibility, targeted IT skills are becoming increasingly popular with employers. According to the “Future of Jobs Report 2020” of the World Economic Forum (WEF), job profiles such as data analysts, coders or software developers are among the most popular in the coming years.
Digital competence: Germany is lagging behind
At the end of 2020, the Bitkom digital association had 86,000 vacancies for IT specialists. According to estimates by the WEF, around 20,000 coders are missing in Germany alone. That fits into the picture: Germany lags behind China, the USA and Scandinavia in terms of digital infrastructure and digital competence.
At the same time, many “analog” employees face dismissal. The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs estimates that 40 to 50 percent of all employees will have to acquire new qualifications in a digital job profile by 2030. In the automotive industry, for example, this affects around 400,000 jobs. What to do?
Professional re-qualification (reskilling) and the development of extended digital skills (upskilling) could save numerous jobs, believes the Berlin founder Nicole Gaiziunas. She sees this as the key to solving the skilled worker problem: “We don’t have a shortage of skilled workers, but a lack of qualifications,” she says. Gaiziunas, business economist and social worker, heads the XU Group in Berlin, a provider of further training and new qualifications in digital jobs.
“No shortage of skilled workers, but a lack of qualification”
She is convinced that qualification can save jobs on the one hand and remedy the shortage of skilled workers on the other. Re- and upskilling could help companies to keep their knowledge and employees in their own company, says the education expert. “At the same time, they can adapt the profile of the workforce and thus the way the company works to the requirements of the future.”
In order for new IT-related knowledge to compensate or expand existing knowledge, basic digital skills and an understanding of the transformation in companies are necessary.
Approach: Education solutions of the future for everyone – with basic digital skills
“People first have to understand why a company needs new technologies and flatter hierarchies in order to be prepared for the future,” says Gaiziunas about the necessary basic skills. “Many corporations such as Bosch and VW, but also internationally operating traditional companies such as Vorwerk have long been on the way there.” Together with experts, she is now also teaching participants in further training courses this basic qualification.
“Only when employees at important interfaces such as HR, purchasing, finance or compliance understand the need for modern business models or digital leadership,” says Gaiziunas, “can they understand what new skills are required for and learn them.” That also helps companies. Because she saw this clearly, she founded her company in 2016.
Jobs of the future: coders, data scientists, software developers
Since then, the team has trained and trained participants with and without IT skills in courses on coders, data scientists and software developers. Parallel to the company, Gaiziunas initiated the establishment of a university for digitization in Potsdam together with the Klett publishing group.
By 2024, she wants to give a quarter of a million people the chance to work in a digital job profile through appropriate qualifications. It is aimed at students as well as freelancers and employees in companies, “across all hierarchical levels”.
The team now accompanies companies from all over Germany. For these, the education experts develop and anchor sustainable digital concepts and qualify employees in 9 to 12-month programs.
“Not everyone was born to be a coder,” says Gaiziunas. “But we actually manage to train the participants to be ready for action in 9 to 12 months. These are just great results. It encourages people, especially in times of threatened unemployment and short-time work. ”However, IT specialists also come to XU to learn new programming languages or other new tools, for example for areas in demand such as online marketing.
The better qualified a person is in basic digital skills, the more valuable they are to the employer. For example, Gaiziunas works with Linkedin Learning to determine market needs.
Way too late: Insurance companies, banks and medium-sized companies
Gaiziunas observes that companies increasingly need the new skills in-house. “It is often no longer enough to only buy skills from digitally competent freelancers or IT specialists.” The automotive industry, for example, experiences this. “The companies are becoming software companies.” That certainly does not apply to all industries, says the expert. Banks, insurance companies and medium-sized companies, for example, are initially lacking a basic pace. “You often started dealing with digitization far too late.”
However, transparency and the knowledge of the necessity is the first step. In order to train as target-oriented as possible for the future, Gaiziunas and her team can overlook time horizons of a maximum of two to five years. “We can’t look into the crystal ball,” she says. “Everything beyond that is still open.”
The German state has already set a good course with the Work of Tomorrow Act and the Qualification Opportunities Act. “But the most important thing is: stay tuned. It will not work without regular investment in digital qualifications. “