(Credit image/Pexels/Anna Shvets)Salesforce has published the results of its ‘Digital Skills Now’ survey which shows that the vast majority of global workers think skills are more important than education qualifications or career background. However, only 1 in 10 say they use AI skills — one of today’s most in-demand digital skills. 84% of employees consider skills-based experience more important than a degree or industry-specific qualification when trying to land a job in today’s market.

Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between the skills companies need and those currently used by the workforce. 8 in 10 global workers report using digital skills in their day-to-day work. However, few report skills beyond collaboration technology, digital administration, and digital project management.

Today’s fast-growing businesses suggest that the in-demand skills include artificial intelligence (AI) and coding/app development. Nonetheless, they rank among the least used in workers’ day-to-day roles.

The survey’s full findings are based on 11,000+ workers across 11 countries. The countries covered by the research include Australia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US. It includes new data on how the workforce feels about the role generative AI will play in the jobs of tomorrow.

The good news?

There appears to be less fear — and more excitement — among employees about emerging technologies’ potential to transform the jobs of the future. This, paired with workers’ reported desire to learn new skills, suggests that companies can help close the digital skills gap. This can be achieved by managers providing continuous, skills-based training to their employees.

Global movement toward skills-based hiring

The shift toward skills-based hiring is evident at all levels. 82% of people leaders surveyed said skills are the most important attribute when evaluating candidates. Only 18% said that relevant degree/industry-specific qualifications are the most important.

98% of business leaders believe the shift to skills-based hiring provides business benefits. Over half (56%) cited talent retention as a benefit. Increased workforce diversity (48%) and knowledge sharing (46%) also ranked highly.

Additionally, most people leaders believe that prioritising employees’ digital skills development will have positive impacts on wider business performance. They cite increased productivity (47%), better team performance (43%) and improved problem-solving capabilities (40%) as likely positive attributes.

Agreement on the need for AI skills

Research shows over half of US-based senior IT leaders say their business is currently using or experimenting with generative AI. 80% say they need to recruit or upskill employees in generative AI to successfully implement it within their company.

In this study, 60% of global workers reported excitement about the prospect of using generative AI for their job. Workers were more likely to be excited about its use in their workplace (58%) than worry about it replacing them in their job (48%).

In fact, 22% of global workers rank AI among the top three most important digital skills now. This number rises to 27% when asked about AI’s importance over the next five years. This increase is also seen in more traditional, non-technical industries:

  • Public sector (20% believe AI is important now and 28% think it will be important in five years).
  • Healthcare (20% say it is important now and 27% say it will be important in five years).

Building resilience in workers and employers

Workplace skills are seen as increasingly important because of the rise in automation and AI, according to people leaders. They say data security skills (60%), ethical AI and automation skills (58%), and programming skills (57%) will be more important with these technologies in the picture.

Currently, however, only 1 in 10 workers say their day-to-day role involves AI. Only 14% say their role involves encryption and cyber security skills, and 13% coding and app development skills.

The industry indexing the highest for AI skills is technology. However, even for this industry, less than a third of employees (27%) use AI skills within their role today. Outside of traditional IT roles, this number drops further; less than 10% of those in healthcare (8%) and the public sector (6%) report they use AI skills in their day-to-day role.

Companies seeking to change this landscape and focus on skills-based hiring have the wind at their backs. Workers want to expand their limited set of digital skills: Nine in 10 believe that businesses should prioritise digital skills development for their employees. 97% believe businesses should prioritize AI skills in their employee development strategy.

Enterprise Times: What this means for business.

Salesforce’s Digital Skills Now research makes sensible reading for any business operator. It ought to be common sense that employers focus on and prioritise the actual skills people bring to the business. In addition to their qualifications or career background. This is important during our current times, where businesses face critical skills shortages in key areas – AI and data management. This should mean that businesses prioritise those skills areas in their staff development strategies. Already, 97% of respondents believe organisations must take this approach to build resilience in both employees and enterprises.

Too many companies still lack the data skills needed to develop personalised experiences for customers. This is the clear learning from Salesforce’s report and other similar analyst industry research. AI can develop the increasingly more sophisticated data needed to build deeper corporate understanding of customers. However, organisations still need the people to set the initial algorithms and develop the programming needed by this still-maturing technology.



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