Skills and Talent

Closing the digital skills gap is critical in cloud engineering.

05 July 2022 • 4 min read

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‘A recent study found that 29 million people across Europe will require digital skills training by 2025 to keep pace with change’ - this statement was one of the key takeaways from the recent AWS Summit, and one that resonated with every single ANDi (that’s what we call our people) in the audience. In fact, the issue of the digital skills gap is only gaining in importance thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, which acted as a catalyst for cloud adoption and further fuelled the world’s thriving digital economy.

But first, what do we mean by a ‘digital skills gap’? Within cloud, there is a tendency to look at it purely as a shortfall in the availability of applicable STEM skills - more specifically; programming skills, database skills, an understanding of networking, knowledge of the DevOps framework, and security experience amongst others. Some take an even broader view on it, defining the problem as one of “not having enough people to complete tasks in the short term”. For AND Digital it is a combination of these skill sets, coupled with an agile and curious mindset, within a culture that enables growth and upskilling.

Encouragingly, AWS have previously announced that they have committed £1.8bn worth of investment in the UK over the next 2 years to encompass many of the aforementioned topics, as well as levelling up cloud adoption nationwide.

As an Advanced Consulting Partner, AND Digital is committed to working in partnership with AWS, as just one of the many initiatives that we’re driving to close the world’s digital skills gap, and to unlock the full economic and social potential that brings. To contextualise the scale of the opportunity, AWS’ research identified more than £1.8tn of unrealised economic potential in just the European Union alone. Estimates suggest that currently only 25% of European businesses are cloud-first, with an aim to reach 75% by 2030.

That’s why by the end of 2025, as one of our BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) we’ve committed to directly improving the digital skills of 200,000 people. We set out to achieve this having recognised that the world has changed - software and data are at the heart of every organisation, and although technology is fundamental, alone it isn’t enough. To disrupt industries and gain a competitive advantage, organisations need the right people. We’re pleased to say that we’re already well on the way to meeting that goal. In 2021, we equipped 10,000 people with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive, and in 2022 we will help tens of thousands more.

On a practical level, we’re doing that through:

  • Offering our clients learning credits for each ANDi they have working on site - these can be redeemed against a variety of upskilling opportunities.

  • Cloud Academy - a programme designed to help individuals achieve technical cloud engineering accreditations in AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

  • AND She Can - a programme working to inspire women into technology careers, closing the gender skills gap.

  • Hosting training and workshops - with our ANDis and other experts - that cover a wide range of informative and relevant topics.

  • Sharing operational and organisational best practices to ensure that our customers are set up for success.

  • Helping our customers to innovate and define new products - for example by spinning up a new proof of concept team or supporting a hackathon.

  • Providing agile coaching that equips teams with the framework to innovate.

  • Advising on and facilitating recruitment to ensure our clients attract and retain the right talent.

What does that mean for our clients?

We helped N Brown Group - a leading British online retail company that is size inclusive, and focused on the needs of underserved customers - to transition from fragmented and complex legacy systems to a simplified cloud-based system using AWS. This was achieved through migration to a cloud-based microservices architecture which served to reduce costs, save time, and allow AND Digital to retrain and upskill N Brown Group’s employees in the process. The results for both N Brown Group and their customers were striking with a 22% reduction in platform costs, stock updates on the mobile platform taking place every 15 minutes, and a notable 84% of transactions now taking place through digital channels.

“A key part of making the project really fly was AND Digital’s focus on people and its success in upskilling N Brown’s own people — many of them long-standing staff members.” - Diane Roland - Head of Cloud and Platform, N Brown Group.

Upskilling is vital to the world’s digital economy. There aren’t enough digital practitioners to help every organisation transform. And even if there were, self-sufficiency is what enables organisations to change, grow and develop new products faster. That’s why closing the digital skills gap is so important to us.


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