Google and NedWorks building digital skills together for more than 5 years.
In 2015 Google Belgium and NedWorks came together with one clear ambition: increase the inflow of digital talent into the job market to accelerate the Belgian digital economy. The driver behind this mission was, and still is valid today. Belgian companies are finding it difficult to digitize their business. They are struggling to find talent, while at the same time international competitors are entering the market.
Exactly the reason why Google and NedWorks teamed up five years ago, resulting in a clear shared ambition and a strong partnership between a global technology company and a Belgian digital talent agency. And today we're celebrating 5 years of partnership and what a fantastic journey it has been so far.
Together with Thierry Geerts (Country Director Google Belgium & Luxemburg and author of Digitalis) and Guy Gelaude (CSO NedWorks and ex-Googler) we reflect on the journey so far and look forward to the future.
Why this partnership?
Thierry: In Belgium, 70% of the e-commerce revenue is captured by companies outside of Belgium, mainly from The Netherlands, France and Germany. The only cause of that is the lack of digital knowledge and ambition within Belgium. Today, 4 billion consumers are only one click away for our SME's -and they should capture this opportunity! To foster this digital transformation, we need more digital talent. This means talent entering the market such as students, which we did with Digital Masters Academy. But it also means increasing digital skills within the actual active workforce via initiatives such as Google Digital Atelier.
Guy: As a digital talent agency, we’re at the frontline when it comes to finding the right talent and building successful digital teams. Now, being a successful digital team isn’t just about finding the right talent. Being a successful digital team means that the company needs to have a clear view of their goals. And an even clearer view of what is required from their human capital to achieve it. Call it a skills and knowledge gap. At NedWorks, we notice that the latter part is something companies struggle with. And we also notice that this is the first thing companies postpone figuring out. Which is understandable, but by far not the right approach. Not knowing how to transform your human capital from the as is situation, to the required to be situation, heavily impacts competitiveness. And thus success. A dangerous loop …
What is the role of continuous learning in this?
Thierry: It’s illusory to think that one will never have to study again after having completed one's education. Continuous learning until you retire is the new standard in the digital world. The career cycle has and will become shorter and shorter: no career can last longer than thirty years. That's why our teaching must be oriented towards ongoing training. You have to learn to retrain permanently. This means that a lot of responsibility will now rest on each of us individually. You have to personally take charge of your future. The typical counter-argument is that not everybody has sufficient abilities to work at a digital profession and that retraining isn’t always possible. The problem here is that retraining elicits a lot of fear. There is no reason for people who have worked all their lives for a car manufacturer to remain in the automotive industry forever. Retraining doesn’t necessarily involve reorientation to another function within the same sector. It also creates opportunities to follow one's passion. Lifelong learning and retraining will not only increase a person’s chances on the job market; it's also about giving people direction in their own lives.
Guy: At NedWorks we believe that technology is driving the pace, but it is your human capital that will make the difference. In other words, creating a mindset of continuous learning and having a company culture that, not only acknowledges the importance of this but also stimulates it, will differentiate you from the rest. Every company has the social responsibility to valorize their human capital. This means understanding potential blindspots in digital competences and strengthening those with training or talent. In an industry that is rapidly changing, your ability to detect digital knowledge gaps and anticipation on tackling these, will successfully differentiate you from the rest.
Thierry: For Google Digital Atelier and Digital Masters Academy we were in need of a partner that understands the importance, but also sees the opportunity; which is a digital world and the need for transformation. A partner that understands how to inspire and transfer knowledge while being well connected with Belgian companies; and last but not least ready to take a bet! NedWorks did it and the rest is history.