Employers need to do more to prepare for the digital future

Employers need to do more to prepare for the digital future of work or risk being left behind, according to a new report released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).


The report Skilling the Australian workforce for the digital economy, based on research conducted by RMIT University and Australian Industry Standards, also reveals the degree to which digital technologies are being adopted in Australian workplaces is highly variable despite most employers acknowledging their importance.

“A workforce with appropriate digital skills is a crucial component of Australia’s ability to compete in a rapidly emerging global digital economy,” said Simon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER.

“This new report focuses on the skills impact of increasing digitalisation and shows that employers are often only adopting digital technologies gradually and in a restricted manner. This is due to several factors, including a lack of basic digital skills in their workforce and the perceived costs of digital upskilling.”

The report identifies three categories of employers based on their approaches to technology uptake and skills acquisition:

  • the aggressive adopters and skills developers
  • the keen adopters with cautious skills development, and
  • those who appreciate the growing need for digital skills but haven’t invested in skills development so far.

“Employers who don’t invest in digital skills development tend to expect new recruits to already have the necessary skills,” Mr Walker said.

The report proposes a comprehensive Australian workplace digital skills framework that will assist employers to identify digital skills gaps and to develop targeted training programs.

It also recommends that government and industry work together with the VET sector more broadly to ensure Australian workplaces have the digital skills they need to cope with future workplace requirements.

“Employers must also be proactive about this if they want to remain competitive in the future,” Mr Walker said. “They need to develop a clear vision and invest in meeting digital skills needs across their workforces.”

The research was conducted by Victor Gekara, Darryn Snell, Alemayehu Molla and Stan Karanasios of RMIT University and Amanda Thomas of Australian Industry Standards.

Skilling the Australian workforce for the digital economy is available from: www.ncver.edu.au/publications


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