The acceleration that the digital transformation process has suffered as a result of the pandemic has taken center stage in the last year. But this development does not happen without more, it needs people behind it to investigate and implement it. The European Union (EU) estimates that 45% of jobs in 2022 will be related to the digital field, but, meanwhile, the shortage of talent in this field means a flight of activity close to 315 million euros per year and a reduction of 110 million in tax revenue per year, according to data from the report Employability and digital talent, presented this Thursday by the Fundación Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and the Fundación Vass.
To keep up, it is necessary to have trained professionals and, for the moment, it is not going the best way. Despite the fact that the number of companies with employees in the field of ICT services has grown by 61% in Spain since the 2008 crisis, the number of university graduates in these branches has decreased by 23.2% in this period. This represents 12.5% fewer new hires and 3,600 unfilled vacancies per year.
But this gap is not only quantitative, but also, and mainly, qualitative. The applicants’ lack of technical work experience (70.98%) and their low qualification (67.40%) are the two main problems that companies say they encounter when hiring ICT profiles. In addition, from Manpower they warn that, in a decade, the percentage of companies in the industrial field that have had problems hiring suitable profiles has risen from 30% to 54%. This is what the director of the Vass Foundation and head of this study, Antonio Rueda, called the digital talent deficit: what students have to adapt when leaving university to reach what companies consider acceptable, and that, currently, it is around 46.8%.
Closing this gap completely is not entirely possible, as recognized by the president of the Spanish Consulting Association (AEC), Elena Salgado, who pointed out that the responsibility for training should be shared between student and company, but falls especially on the latter. “There will always be a small shock when entering the labor market, but it must be added positively because it is a source of personal and professional growth, “he said.
The so-called soft skills o social skills present a gap smaller than the technical but equally significant (40.5%), which, in addition, has widened after the pandemic. This is how Rueda pointed it out: “Companies believe there has been a brutal erosion of soft skills”. Along these lines, the ability to work in a team is the quality most demanded by companies, followed by continuous learning and flexibility. Three requirements clearly accentuated by the uncertain current context.
For their part, with regard to more technical training, the experts focus on the teaching staff. Vodafone’s director of talent, Rebeca Navarro, defended that companies have a close relationship with both institutions and students: “Our pending issue is building bridges with teachers.” Also the deputy director of the Higher Technical School of Computer Engineering of the University of Seville and co-author of the study, Pablo Trinidad, brought up these professionals and recalled that teaching precariousness directly impacts the growth of the sector: “It is not so simple that if professionals are needed, make more professionals. We need to expand the teaching staff, but we offer salaries that are not competitive and it is increasingly difficult for us to attract researchers”.