Diversity, Equity & Inclusion4 min read

Bridging the Gap: How Can We Respond to the Digital Skills Shortage?

Photo for Robert CondonRobert Condon
Digital Skills Gap
Young woman taking notes while learning from home

If your business is struggling to find people with the right digital skills, you are not alone. At the launch of the European Year of Skills 2023 — an initiative focused on promoting upskilling and reskilling for individuals to support company innovation and competitiveness — the European Commission told us that 77% of EU organizations report difficulties in finding workers with the necessary skills.

The Commission also confirmed what many businesses have known for some time: four in 10 adults in Europe lack basic digital competence, including a third of people currently in employment. The number with advanced digital skills (just 26% of adults between 16 and 74) is even more troubling.

There is no doubt that digital is revolutionizing societies, businesses and economies, yet we have a skills gap that threatens to hold us back. Strong technological abilities are now, more than ever, key to an individual’s success in the workplace, as well as to economic growth and societal development.

This isn’t just a European problem. The OECD reports that the cost, relevance and quality of training has led to low take-up in countries everywhere. Barriers to lifelong learning and limited investment are slowing down efforts to close the gap. That’s why the Commission’s efforts to break down those barriers are very welcome, as is its goal that by 2030 80% of EU adults have basic digital skills and 20 million will be employed as ICT specialists.

But it is also important that the tech industry steps up and engages with the issue. Tech companies should be partnering with local governments and educational institutions to encourage more people to take advantage of digital training and upskilling opportunities. After all, this is our area of expertise, and we have a good idea of what skills are needed now—and what will be needed in the future.

Our goals for 2030

At VMware, our commitment to closing the skills gap—and making digital transformation more accessible for all—is encapsulated in our 2030 Agenda, a program for building a more sustainable, equitable and secure future. Our commitment to equity is about creating a future that is accessible, inclusive and just for everyone and closing the digital skills gap is a key part of it.

Our goal is to help more than 15 million people around the world acquire the digital skills they need by 2030. We believe that public-private partnerships are essential to democratizing access to digital skills, and to achieving this at scale. Through these partnerships we can improve skills in key areas such as cloud computing, application modernization, data center virtualization, end-user computing, networking and security—all essential for mastering important technologies like cloud, mobile, IoT and AI.

As part of our role in closing the skills gap, we have developed specific programs for people already in work or looking for work (VMware Learning), and for students at upper-secondary schools, community colleges, technical colleges and universities (VMware IT Academy).

VMware Learning

As part of the VMware Learning program, we help individuals acquire IT skills through our VMware Authorized Training Center (VATC) partners. The collaboration between these partners and government entities enables us to provide the latest training, resources and upskilling opportunities so that individuals and their employers get the cloud-smart skills they need.

Together we have designed courses and programs to help people succeed in today’s workplace and to achieve industry-recognised VMware certifications. Our learning partners provide essential language support, local schedules and local instructors to boost success rates.

For example, we have developed a program with the continuing-education specialists at ExperTeach in Frankfurt, Germany. ExperTeach offers VMware authorized training courses which align to our certifications. Examples include ‘VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization 2023 (VCP-DCV)’ which validates candidate skills with a VMware vSphere infrastructure that can accelerate the transformation to cloud computing and ‘VMware Certified Professional - VMware Cloud 2023 (VCP-VMC)’ which validates a person’s ability to connect and migrate to a VMware Cloud solution.

We have supported ExperTeach to ensure it is certified by Germany’s Accreditation and Licensing Ordinance on Employment Promotion (AZAV). This is of great importance as AZAV approval means that students can be eligible for funding from the Federal Employment Agency and, for jobseekers, AZAV can reimburse the full cost of the VMware training course. As a result of the financial subsidies this new government program provides, ExpertTeach can help even more people gain VMware certifications, improving their employability and increasing the competitiveness of the companies they work for.

Similarly, in France, we have established VATC partners like Atlas, a state-authorized skills operator (OPCO) that supports vocational training. Because Atlas works with more than 100,000 companies including micro-enterprises and SMEs, we can extend our reach and ensure more businesses develop in-house cloud and virtualization skills they need to succeed in the digital economy.

VMware IT Academy

We operate VMware IT Academy across EMEA and worldwide, collaborating with government agencies, industry partners, educational institutions and community organizations. Together we provide students with high-quality learning certification opportunities and hands-on lab experiences with VMware technologies. VMware provides free curriculum and materials, with the goal of helping students understand VMware technology and jump-start their software careers.

In 2022, through VMware IT Academy, we worked with 608 academies in Europe and contributed more than €25 million in kind to European education. It’s all about a collaborative, learn-anywhere environment to help more students start their learning journey, build on foundational skills and earn industry-recognized certifications. We’re creating a pipeline of diverse talent and potential leaders who will address the digital talent shortage, leading to positive change around the world.

As part of this program, we have made an official pledge to give all EU-accredited academic institutions, research centers and non-profits access to our academic resources and to make a direct contribution to reduce the digital skills gap in Europe.

More than certifications

It really is time to bridge the gap between good intentions and decisive action. We know that companies look for the kinds of certifications VMware offers when they are hiring workers for today’s in-demand and high-paying IT jobs.

But there is something bigger at play here too. We believe that a commitment to upskilling people is an acknowledgement that the world around us is changing. With the right digital skills, people can respond to new circumstances. They can influence, participate and lead change in the direction they choose. And they can make sure that big technological forces like cloud, AI, ML and digitalization are no longer just abstract concepts imposed upon a population—but are recognized as the source of good jobs, better life quality and greater security for the future.

Find out more at VMware Learning and VMware IT Academy.