Workers with advanced digital skills raise Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) and boost company revenue, according to a recent report by research group Gallup and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
However, even with the economic benefits that digital workers can provide, Canadian companies continue to face a shortage of talent.
The report found that advanced digital skills boost Canada’s GDP by an estimated $257 billion USD each year.
A survey of tens of thousands of digital workers across 18 countries, including Canada, found that the majority of businesses “rely heavily” on digital skills. In Canada, 81 percent of businesses reported that digital skills will be very or extremely important to their business over the next five years.
However, 67 percent find it challenging to hire the digital workers they need, with 45 percent attributing this to a shortage of qualified applicants.
The benefits of workers with digital skills are clear. “Advanced digital skills generate significant income and revenue premiums for workers and industry,” the report stated. “These premiums quickly add up, creating major national and global value.”
The report found that advanced digital skills boost Canada’s GDP by an estimated $257 billion USD each year. This is correlated with increasing workers’ income and productivity.
When it comes to salaries, the average Canadian worker with advanced digital skills earns 136 percent more than their counterparts. The report claimed that this translates into average individual gains of $81,156 USD.
In terms of productivity, nearly half (48 percent) of Canadian workers said digital skills training made them more efficient in their work, with 34 percent of those surveyed receiving an increase in salary and 33 percent believing it increased their opportunities of being promoted.
When it comes to direct effects on businesses, the report claimed that organizations with digitally-skilled workforces “significantly outperform non-digital peers.”
It stated that about half (48 percent) of Canadian workers with advanced digital skills say their organization’s revenue growth has been steady in the past 12 months, growing between 10 percent and 99 percent. This is compared to about 33 percent of workers with less digital skills saying the same.
However, the benefits that can be gained may remain limited while companies continue to face a talent shortage.
That shortage is despite an influx of talent returning to the market as companies have made layoffs amid the current economic climate.
The need for more digitally-skilled workers has long been a narrative in the Canadian tech ecosystem. Prior to the economic downturn, many startups lamented the likes of Big Tech companies coming into the country and swallowing up talent by providing salaries and certain benefits that the smaller companies couldn’t compete with.
But with companies like Shopify laying off 1,000 employees and Meta, which had planned to hire as many as 2,500 over the next five years, slowing its hiring, the pressure has eased up a bit, according to Bright + Early founder Nora Jenkins Townson.
However, as Jenkins Townson noted earlier this year, that tension only eased up in certain roles, such as marketing, design, recruiting, and customer service, while engineering talent remains in high demand.
To companies’ delight, one potential ease on the talent gap may be the fact that 43 percent of Canadian workers who do not work for a technology company say they would like to, according to the Gallup and AWS report.
However, according to the report, part of the reason behind the talent gap is a lack of digital skills training. “Eighty-one percent of these workers do not feel they have sufficient digital skills to be hired by such a company.”
AWS’ interest in the report data is plain as the organization provides free digital skills training to individuals with an aim to upskill workers and businesses to use its cloud platform. However, within Canada broadly there has been widespread recognition and efforts to upskill workers, from a variety of organizations and governments.
The 2021 federal budget noted upskilling as one of its top priorities with plans to launch the Canada Digital Adoption Program, which aims to create 28,000 jobs for young people and help up to 160,000 small to medium-sized businesses adopt digital technologies.
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