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Future of Work

Salesforce Launches Global Digital Skills Index: In-Depth Insights from 23,000 Workers

Skills index graphics

Quick take: Salesforce’s 2022 Global Digital Skills Index reveals a growing digital skills crisis. This article takes an in-depth look at the findings, based on what 23,000+ workers across 19 countries say about digital skills, including their impact on the future of work, concerns about job readiness, and the significance of continuous learning. 


It’s the Digital Age. Or is it? A majority of the current and prospective workforce think they lack the proper digital skills to prepare them for the future. 

Across 19 surveyed countries, workers scored 33 out of a possible 100 points on the Digital Skills Readiness Index across areas such as preparedness, access to learning resources, skill level, and participation in training. Workers in the United States fared slightly better at 36 out of 100 points.

It’s a common assumption that developed countries and younger generations feel more prepared for the digital skills demanded by today’s jobs. But these findings challenge those assumptions. In fact, many respondents say they feel unequipped and unprepared for some of the most important digital skills needed for the workplace. 

Nearly three out of four respondents worldwide say they aren’t equipped with the resources needed to learn the digital skills they need to succeed in the current and future workforce. Confidence also dips dramatically in countries like Italy and South Korea, whose respondents are less active in learning and training, and have poorer access to skilling resources. 

Three major skills gaps identified in new global index

1. The everyday skills gap

The vast majority of respondents (83%) claim “advanced” or “intermediate” everyday social media skills and 76% say the same for everyday digital communication skills. However, only one-third feel prepared for the workplace social media skills needed over the next five years. 

Two-thirds of respondents say they’re unprepared for social media skills that the workplace will require over the next five years.

Over 6 in 10  global respondents say skills in collaboration technology like Slack are viewed as the most important skills needed by businesses today and over the next five years. Despite respondents’ prowess with everyday collaboration technology like social media and digital communication, only 25% rated themselves “advanced” in collaboration technology skills needed specifically for the workplace.

2. The generational skills gap

Only 31% of Gen Z respondents, the first truly digital native generation, feel “very equipped” for a digital-first job right now. Not many Gen Z respondents believe they have “advanced” digital skills in areas like coding (20%), data encryption & cybersecurity (18%), and AI (7%). 

Other generations report an even steeper challenge.

Just 17% of Baby Boomers believe they are “very equipped now” for digital-first employment.

3. The leadership and workforce skills gap

When it comes to digital skills readiness and education, senior leadership and their workforce aren’t on the same page. 

A majority of senior leadership respondents (54%) said they are prepared with the digital skills necessary now. However, less than half of managers and individual contributors agree, signaling a disconnect within organizations. 

The skills gap impacts global GDP

A recent Salesforce-commissioned RAND Europe Report highlights that the digital skills gap comes at a cost. It estimated that 14 G20 countries could miss out on $11.5 trillion cumulative GDP growth if the skills gap isn’t addressed. This comes as emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, and the cloud are amplifying business’ demand for specific digital skills — by up to 50% in Europe and the United States (McKinsey). 

Despite this finding, 64% of Salesforce’s global index respondents rated themselves as “beginners” in AI digital skills. A mere 17% of global survey respondents consider themselves “advanced” in workplace digital skills and roughly half rate themselves as “beginners,” illustrating the need to close the gap across the board. 

View a full breakdown of how respondents rate their workplace digital skill level in Tableau

Businesses have a critical role to play in closing the skills gap

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and given businesses a unique opportunity to rethink how they connect with their employees, customers, and communities. 

The majority of respondents (82%) plan to learn new skills to help them grow in their current career or a new career. Some ways that businesses, governments, and communities can work together in supporting the workforce’s thirst for knowledge include: harnessing existing learning communities, investing in younger generations, and promoting training programs focused on top digital skills.

Harness learning communities

Over half of respondents (51%) want to learn new skills to help them grow in their current career over new or different career paths. Where digital education, training, and job creation is concerned, business leaders don’t need to start entirely from scratch. By harnessing the potential and motivation of current employees to innovate, they can accelerate progress towards closing the skills gap. 

Salesforce’s Trailblazer Community is one example of the role that a community can play in helping people learn new skills and expand their networks. The Trailblazer Community is a network of 15 million people across the Salesforce ecosystem who help each other learn new skills and succeed with Salesforce, offering an online platform to learn and connect from anywhere. 

Invest in younger generations

Younger generations have more confidence and ambition to learn skills they don’t know as well – across the globe, 36% of Gen Z and Millennials are “very actively” participating in learning and training, compared to only 22% of Gen X and 15% of Baby Boomers.

Promote training programs focused on top digital skills

Respondents ranked these five digital skills as being most critical for businesses to invest in over the next five years: 

Many of these in-demand workplace skills — from collaboration tech to cyber security — aren’t found in typical school curriculum, reiterating the need for recruiters to focus less on established education programs and more on the “real world” digital skills.

The survey revealed remaining skill gaps in some of these critical areas:

  • While the index reveals that collaboration technology skills has the biggest percentage of “advanced” practitioners, this still only equates to roughly 25% of survey respondents.
  • Despite 58% saying encryption & cybersecurity skills are particularly important, only 14% report “advanced” knowledge of the subject.
  • Nearly half of all respondents view digital sustainability skills as important “now and in the next five years.” Even among business owners, only 16% say they have “advanced” digital skills for operating technology that promotes sustainable business activities like tracing, measuring, and analyzing climate data within an organization. 

A newly digital-first world presents a major opportunity for companies to rethink what agile teams look like. By building training programs based on what workers believe will make them most successful in the workplace, companies can create a flexible working culture that empowers all employees to connect, learn, and progress from anywhere.

Salesforce’s commitment to workforce development spans millions of people worldwide

Salesforce is committed to providing opportunities for people to learn digital skills and gain entry into the tech industry:

  • The Trailblazer Community is a network of 15 million people across the Salesforce ecosystem who help each other learn new skills and succeed with Salesforce. The Trailblazer Community offers an online platform to connect from anywhere, with more than 1,300 active regional and interest-based groups around the world. 
  • Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, has empowered 3.9 million people to learn in-demand skills for the future of work. With Trailhead, learners can skill up for free from anywhere and earn globally recognized credentials for careers in the Salesforce ecosystem. 
  • Pathfinder Training Program is a workforce development initiative designed to train individuals with the technical, business, and soft skills necessary to pursue a career in the Salesforce ecosystem. 
  • Salesforce Military offers free, online training classes and certification exams at no cost for active-duty military, veterans, and military spouses. The program connects a talented pipeline with partner companies to help grow, strengthen, and diversify their workforces.
  • The Salesforce Talent Alliance connects Salesforce partner companies to job candidates trained on Salesforce through Trailhead and brings new talent into the fast-growing ecosystem.
  • Tableau Academic provides free software licenses, eLearning, and curriculum to help educators around the world teach analytics in classrooms. Since 2011, Tableau Academic programs have enabled nearly 2 million students and teachers from accredited institutions around the world.
  • Tableau has committed to train 10 Million Data People in data skills over the next five years through new and expanded learning programs, including a $5 million commitment from Tableau Foundation to support organizations that help women and girls learn data skills.
  • The Tableau Community is a safe, open and supportive environment that encourages data lovers to share, learn, and inspire each other. The Community accelerates analytics and Tableau learning for newbies and experienced users alike. 

Explore further: Salesforce has launched a new Trailblazer Series on Salesforce+, bringing to life the unique stories and pathways of five individuals into the tech industry. 

Learn more

Index methodology

Salesforce surveyed 23,621 of the workforce and prospective workforce across 19 countries to measure global readiness around the future of digital skills. The research is titled Salesforce Global Digital Skills Index 2022. Data in this study is from a blind survey conducted in November-December 2021 that generated responses in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States. For more information around methodology, visit our FAQ page.

*Survey findings were used to create a ‘Digital Readiness’ Index, measuring readiness from the perspective of respondents on the following key factors:

  • Preparedness [Do you feel prepared?]
  • Skill Level [How would you rate your skill level?]
  • Access [Are you equipped with the right resources?]
  • Active Participation [Are you actively learning or upskilling?]

Salesforce Digital Skills Index, January 2022

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