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The Female Quotient

Raising ‘techquity’: closing the skills gap starts with sharing the possibilities

Published 26 September 2023 in The Female Quotient • 4 min read • Audio availableAudio available

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Policymakers and business can increase equity and opportunity in the global labor market by improving access to digital skills training, writes Shelley Zalis.

We’ve seen the stats: the global talent shortage could reach more than 85 million people by 2030. It will take 132 more years to close the gender gap. The average career is now expected to span 60 years. What does this all amount to? We are at the “flipping point” – a time when collective, meaningful action meets the moment. This is where good intentions need to turn into intentional action. 

There isn’t a leader, employee, or student who is not in need of a skills refresher or enhancement. Being a digital expert is not “a one (degree) and done”, it’s a continual learning process. Just this summer, we saw the launch of Google Analytics 4, Threads, Twitter’s rebrand to X, and the phrase “generative AI” referenced in every other marketing campaign. 

This speed of business transformation will be harder to sustain and comprehend without a commitment from business leaders to focus on closing the skills gap. A seismic shift in hiring and retention should hone its focus on specific skillsets needed to perform the role. A degree alone cannot ensure that one is adept enough in all things, but a current certification in Google Ads, Google Analytics, and HubSpot certainly verifies that you are capable of digitally marketing a company’s goods or services.  

The pandemic reinforced what we already knew: you can learn from anywhere given the right resources.

The skills gap also provides opportunities for those without traditional degrees to become masters of their own destinies by attaining certifications. The focus should no longer be on the letters that follow one’s name, or the degree hung on the wall – but the solutions one can bring to the table. When you look at your workforce, upskilling and reskilling should be high priorities for retention and growth.  

Skills-focused hiring is a call to action for global businesses – an initiative I shared at the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, in September. This year’s theme is “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, which for me speaks to achieving gender equity. In July, G20 labor ministers pledged to address global skill gaps for sustainable and inclusive economic development – a commitment that fed into the summit, which brings together the leaders of the most influential economic powers to shape the future of the global economy.

One way to fuel this skills initiative at a policy level is to raise “techquity”, making sure more citizens have access to digital learning through a computer or a mobile device with access to the internet. In many parts of the world, digital access is the difference between having a future and remaining stuck in a generational cycle of poverty. Future jobs are tech jobs, and many can be done remotely, providing economic empowerment to those who might have never thought it possible. 

Skilled equity gap
“Certain positions will begin to lose importance and phase out, while other departments double.”

In industry, global leaders such as German multinational software company SAP are already taking the lead to fill the skills gap and are providing their own certifications that guarantee jobs for those who complete them successfully. This must become the standard. We need more Fortune 500 companies to step up and model this for truly sustainable business transformation. With ready-made accessible platforms, they can share the opportunity, assess the individual, and teach the skills they need to fill their talent pipeline. Here are a few ways to get started: 

  • Promote a culture of continuous learning 

Nurture your talent pool from within and incentivize upskilling and reskilling courses. It’s a win-win for everyone.  

  • Provide a clear path to opportunity by sharing potential outcomes 

What are the skills needed for specific roles, i.e., “You will be more likely to get hired for this if you are certified in this…” 

  • Encourage employees to shadow those in different roles 

Certain positions will begin to lose importance and phase out, while other departments double. If programmatic is a potential fit for someone who has been in more traditional sales, give them the opportunity to try out different job responsibilities. 

  • Share success stories  

Find ambassadors – those who are achieving this skills transition within your organization – to inspire existing colleagues and attract new ones. 

Skilled labour
In many parts of the world, digital access is the difference between having a future or remaining stuck in a generational cycle of poverty

The pandemic reinforced what we already knew: you can learn from anywhere given the right resources. The disruption no one saw coming has had a silver lining that has made waves around the world, even in the most remote communities. Hone in on the skills needed and empower leaders, employees, and students to learn them and use them. Together, let’s change the equation and close the skills gap. 


Shelly Zalis

Shelley Zalis

Founder and CEO of The Female Quotient

A trailblazer for women in the workplace, Shelley Zalis is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, a pioneer for online research, a sought-after speaker, a well-known thought leader, and a devoted mentor. As founder and CEO of The Female Quotient, Zalis is in the business of equality™. Together with a growing global community of more than a million conscious leaders, she is on a mission to change the equation and close the gender gap. 


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