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Consultancy Blog

Your future workforce – more digital and more involved

11th October 2016

Man using MacIt’s a busy time of year for conference and events across the South West, and Cosmic has been represented at lots of these, particularly spreading the word about our various projects to provide digital skills support for businesses in the area, and at these events many local employers are reporting problems in recruiting people into digital roles.

The lack of investment in developing digital skills, at all levels across our education system has been widely recognised in these past few years, and a lot of work is being done now to bridge the gap and provide a much improved digital workforce for future years. Here at Cosmic we continue to support that work in schools, colleges and universities and through our own apprenticeship programmes.

The pace at which digital technologies will continue to grow is increasing rapidly. Many reports have also identified the next set of challenges for businesses, including the growth of automation (and robotics) and the major shift in the types of jobs and employees which we will need.

  • “Digital technology is changing all of our lives, the way we work, our society and our politics.  Over the next 20 years, 35% of jobs will become automated and most jobs don’t yet exist”
    House of Lords, Digital Skills Report 2015)

But in the meantime, there is some clear and growing evidence that organisations need to change and adapt their attitudes towards employment in order to attract and retain talented staff with strong digital skills. A range of recent reports have pointed to the need to develop new ways of working which appeal to the ‘millennials’ which are fast taking over as the largest generation in the workforce this year. 

“Attracting the best of these millennial workers is critical to the future of your business. Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st century workplace” 
(PWC report – Millennials at Work, Reshaping the Workplace, 2016)

So what are the main features which this new, digital workforce is looking for in their career choices? Well according to a global survey conducted at the end of last year by Forbes:

  • They want to grow  - even if that means out-growing your company;
  • They want a coach, not a boss - the #1 reason why millennials leave their job – is their boss;
  • They don’t want to waste time on the little thing - process and systems which waste time or don’t make sense - they want balance and democracy - working hours, output-based performance, collaboration; they want to be listened to and engaged in business plans

In addition to this, of course, they want digital to be embedded effectively into their work routines and helping to make work tasks effective and productive. But many already identify this as a challenge:

  • Almost 50% felt that their managers did not always understand the way they use technology at work;
  • 41% say they prefer to communicate electronically at work than face to face or even over the telephone


  • Millennials routinely make use of their own technology at work;
  • 75% believe that access to technology makes them more effective at work;
  • Millennials feel held back by rigid or outdated working style

So what is your organisation doing to improve its recruitment and retention of the new digital workforce? How are your HR processes, management styles and team-working approaches being adapted in order to embrace and retain the best digital talent?

Businesses and organisations which understand this issue well and develop new attitudes towards nurturing their workforce will undoubtedly be the ones which flourish and succeed in the future. Make sure yours is one!

For more information about our Digital Leadership progamme and to access our published white paper click here: