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Can Bridging The IT Skills Gap Help SMEs Future-Proof Post Brexit?

The UK's departure from the EU could lead to a skills shortage

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The UK's departure from the EU could lead to a skills shortage

Opinions

Can Bridging The IT Skills Gap Help SMEs Future-Proof Post Brexit?

The UK's departure from the EU could lead to a skills shortage

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The impact of an uncertain economy has clearly taken its toll on UK SMEs. A fifth have put recruitment drives on hold, and under 40 per cent say they have a clear plan to achieve growth in the aftermath of Brexit.

This has led to heightened competition and resulted in many businesses prioritising a sustainable, future-proofed business model.

To ensure survival, and for the best chance of a thriving future, it is integral for organisations to both think and perform differently - whether this means innovating beyond traditional working styles, or introducing new methods of communication.

In order to build the best business possible, SMEs need to consider not only where their current skillsets lie, but also where improvements to staff education and information-sharing can be made.

Achieving this means evaluating the level of training and support that is needed company-wide, and bolstering every area of the business through open communication and strong relationships.

IT teams will no doubt be at the heart of the evolving communications landscape and businesses that embrace this will see a resounding benefit.

Educating your employee on the power of tech

With growth and profitability front of mind, staff training can often by over-looked or cast to the side by small businesses who are suffering from a shortage of time and budget. However, doing this can cause negative outcomes.

For customers to feel in safe hands, and for the organisation to truly thrive, ensuring employees are knowledgeable and up-to-speed is essential.

When businesses place responsibility on educating staff as to how technology actually solves business problems, engagement levels will increase. In fact, an internal training session recently carried out at Targus saw a 75 per cent in end-user engagement levels.

Getting direct feedback from staff on what they know, and equally what they don’t, means the type and level of training needed can easily be determined. Whether conducted internally or externally, make sure the training is informative, valuable and most importantly, tailored to wield tangible results.

Support and communication are key

Across every business, there will be employees with various strengths and weaknesses, and training is a valuable way of identifying these. A training programme means you can help those with similar skills to progress in a different way to others, bringing everyone to the same high standard.

Giving all staff the same one-size-fits-all training programme will results in various different levels of knowledge, and may expose some weak links.

To run a successful business, employers cannot expect staff to know exactly what they are doing without a level of support. Communication is key, and by telling and showing employees what is needed from them effective wider performance can be secured.

Providing greater context to employees around how your products and services function, and the value they bring to customers, will also help them innovate beyond the traditional sales pitch.

A change in mind-set and approach will elevate the level of conversations staff are having with customers, resulting in factors such as higher sales, greater engagement and increased satisfaction.

Think long-term and consider the bigger picture

When thinking about your business and your staff, don’t just consider where you want to be now, and what they need to know today. Plan longer term, focusing on not only how your business is set to evolve over time, but also how technology might.

We already know key topic areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and augmented reality are set to continue growing so factoring these into the  thought-process will keep your workforce competitive and ahead of things, rather than trailing behind.

Educate teams on what the future of changing workstyles may look like, and how varying generations such as millennials entering the work place may affect them. This removes the element of the “unknown” which can manifest into a perceived and unnecessary threat.

Sharing these insights will help staff better understand the direction of the company, and the valuable part they play in reaching the overall goal. Opening up to employees and showing transparency in actions will lead to increased loyalty and higher accountability for actions.

With the support of industry-focused training, organisations can take their company to new levels of success, building more mutually beneficial relationships with both staff and customers to ensure challenges are met, business problems are solved and stronger bonds are built.

Dan Milo is head of SME strategy at Targus.

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Can Bridging The IT Skills Gap Help SMEs Future-Proof Post Brexit?

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