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Can Mentorships soften the Skills Gap?

14 days ago by Luigi Muscat Filletti
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The digital transformation which companies in all sectors worldwide are currently witnessing and participating in is undoubtedly shaping the future of businesses and customers’ engagement with those businesses. Technology continues to grow, surprise and disrupt, and organisations who do not invest in digitising their presence and services will fall behind. That being said, it becomes more important for organisations to attract top talent in the required fields to enhance operations and generate intelligent solutions for their current and potential customers. The only factor which acts as an obstacle to such an objective is the skills gap in these areas.

Technology has indeed advanced significantly in the last decade alone, and one might feel as though such an advancement has left the majority of employees in small and large organisations alike to have only stood and watched. As professionals in tech contributed towards digital growth, on the other hand, employees in management, risk, compliance, banking and financial sectors, to name a few, seemed to merely go along their daily tasks and objectives, without much thought. Now, as the digital age is at a steady growth soon reaching its peak, most employees outside of tech have began to come to the realisation that they do not possess the relevant, necessary knowledge to make use of the enhanced solutions brought about through digital innovation.

‘Mentorship programs play a vital role in attracting, nurturing, and retaining talented individuals who wish to continuously learn and grow for and with their company’

Moreover, many individuals leading careers in Tech also feel that they do not have sufficient knowledge in other trending areas of tech to be able to keep up with the demand for emerging areas of expertise, such as those of Blockchain Development, AI and Big Data. The number of Blockchain developers is significantly low, and with their salaries remarkably high, they are attracted to the larger organisations who compete for their acquisition. Unsurprisingly, such individuals become unaffordable to smaller companies, which could create even more tension internally, even more so when the average Malta Salary does not attract offshore talent from nations whose average salaries do not match. Jobs in Malta are flourishing for Tech careers, however the supply simply does not satisfy the demand. The skills gap is therefore a reality which businesses from start-ups to the largest established organisations are experiencing, acting as a barrier to progressing and excelling technologically.

Various means have been discussed in relation to how companies can ease the skills gap, with a highly practical, affordable and favoured way being that of setting up mentorship programs to up-skill employees. An organisation must first identify their digital direction, that being how they wish to progress technologically. Once determining so, the required expertise can be decided upon. For instance, if a company in the financial sector decides to optimise their services through Blockchain technology, yet does not possess a workforce with the required skillset, they could organise a mentorship program whereby a professional in Blockchain would act as a mentor to the tech workforce of that company. By doing so, the mentor would be passing on their knowledge to the company’s employees in order to familiarise them with the various processes through which Blockchain, in this case, operates.

‘Companies can still feel secure about recruiting individuals who, although may not possess the specific skills needed, have the work ethic, drive and desire to learn and grow.’

This is also a way of nurturing talent from within, and companies can still feel secure about recruiting individuals who, although may not possess the specific skills needed, have the work ethic, drive and desire to learn and grow. Thus, attracting talent is not the only way and means of gaining higher ground in the market. Farming talent through mentorship programs is an effective way of laying the foundations for a loyal and committed workforce. In addition to this, younger individuals may be offered internships which are guided by mentors who inform and oversee their progress in the company, resulting in more effective scalability. The educational system has also started to introduce courses in AI and Blockchain, meaning that younger generations will be at the advantage of already possessing knowledge on the latest technological practices of our time. Additionally, individuals reading for degrees in banking and finance are also being introduced to newly formed syllabi which is based on how technology is affecting functionalities and processes of banking and finance.

‘From interns to individuals in Executive roles, a mentor can act as a complete guide to help direct business development, thus indirectly forming part of the workforce.’

Needless to say, mentors are professionals in their field, meaning that they would be able to share their knowledge at different levels of an organisation. From interns to individuals in Executive roles, a mentor can act as a complete guide to help direct business development, thus indirectly forming part of the workforce. This is a valuable asset to a company in a time when digital transformation might be bewildering or misguiding professionals who do not have the skills in place to properly strategise a way forward.

All in all, introducing mentors who can share their expertise and experience on particular topics with a workforce looking to provide value through that skillset is certainly one way of soothing the skills gap in various sectors. Mentorship programs play a vital role in attracting, nurturing, and retaining talented individuals who wish to continuously learn and grow for and with their company, shaping them into professionals who are flexible and scalable across a wide range of sectors.