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Global digital skills gap can be crossed

By TERENCE MOOLMAN, Chief HR Officer at SYSPRO Corporate

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The global digital skills gap is growing at an exponential rate. According to the Coursera 2019 Global Skills Index, a whopping two-thirds of the global population is falling behind in critical skills, with 90% being in developing economies.  IDC echoes this in their 2019 Futurescape report, stating that two million jobs in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, cybersecurity and blockchain will remain unfilled by 2023 due to a lack of human talent. The truth is that the rate at which technology is evolving is faster than the rate at which skills are being developed.

Considering the skills shortage, many CHROs are realizing that a one-size-fits-all approach to talent management won’t work in today’s volatile, uncertain, complicated and ambiguous world. Instead many global organizations are looking towards a creative and insights-driven approach to plugging the gap. 

Instead of favoring a localized approach, many are accessing the global talent pool. A good example of where this could work well is in a market such as Canada. According to the Robert Half Salary Guide 2020,  with its burgeoning startup culture and immigration policies, Canada is looking to attract skilled technology from across the world. 

The three key factors to considering when selecting from the global talent pool

Where the world is your oyster, it is important to know where to find the best people for the job. In order to achieve this, global organizations need to consider three factors:

  • Concentration of talent
  • Labor costs and efficiency
  • Business Environment

Concentration of Talent: Finding the right people to fit the job

In a world where connectivity allows for a flexible and global workforce, leveraging pockets of excellence across the globe can be a step towards closing the digital skills gap. Businesses therefore need to identify where concentrations of talent lie. A study by HackerRank identified the countries with the most comprehensive IT skills. Eastern Europe came out on top with the top four including Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Countries with the best developers included China, Russia, Poland and Switzerland. 

Another area of expertise that CHROs are looking into include innovation hotspots. The JLL Global Innovation Ranking report identified San Francisco in Silicon Valley. Yet the top positions are not all dominated by U.S. cities, but rather evenly spread across the three main global regions, with Asia Pacific cities like Tokyo and Singapore having a stronger presence in these rankings than they would have had even a few years ago.

Labor costs and efficiency: Matching the right talent with competitive compensation

Labor costs and competitive compensation also need to be taken into consideration when identifying talent across the globe. One study by CapRelo looked into the average salary of a Software Engineer globally. Unsurprising, Silicon Valley came out on top with $85,000 as an average salary for an American software engineer and the second highest in the world, trailing only Switzerland’s $94,567. The key is to map out a company’s specific labor requirements while remaining competitive. 

Business environment: A nimble response to the changing business environment

The ever-changing business environment should also be considered when building a global labor force. In response to changing business needs, the 2019 Global Skills Index showed that the global appetite for developing technological skills is slowly increasing at the expense of traditional business skills. According to the report, the demand for business skills such as sales or communications have been diminishing, while the demand for skills in technology and data science have grown exponentially. In fact, technology enrollments increased 13% since last year, while business enrollments fell by 11%.

While the industry plays catch up, it is vital for businesses to proactively continue with training initiatives in foundational business skills with current employees. According to the World Economic Forum ‘HR4.0: Shaping People Strategies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ report, the workforce rates the opportunity to learn among the top reasons for taking a job. The report goes on to say that 94% of CHROs prioritize the move from episodic training to perpetual reskilling to enable a nimble workforce and respond to the changing nature of work.

At the same time, companies should be aware that those adopting a flexible approach to globalized talent will be left with a new emerging challenge of creating a remote culture experience as well as enhanced management skills to manage an increasingly dispersed workforce. Implementing effective global talent hubs will require a solid foundation, which without will prove to be costly; however if implemented properly can provide a healthy supply of technology talent to fulfill the growing demand.

Ultimately, technology can provide global organizations with the opportunity to access a global workforce. By having the right knowledge around pockets of excellence and compensation needs, a new flexible workforce can emerge. The key is to also continue with the implementation of ongoing training initiatives to arm the workforce with the right skills in an ever-changing world. As a global organization, SYSPRO continues to invest in our global workforce to leverage the right skills for unique market needs.

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Huawei Mate Xs foldable goes beyond design

The new foldable handset from Huawei ups the game with great performance and improved hinge design, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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“Falcon Wing Design.” Run those words over your tongue. It sounds cool, it looks cool and it feels cool. And it sums up the high-tech engineering that will make the new foldable handset from Huawei a formidable competitor in this fast-growing segment.

But it is not only design that sets the new Huawei Mate Xs apart. Unlike its predecessor, the Mate X, the device runs on EMUI10.0.1, an operating system based on Android Open Source Project. The software is based on Google’s mobile operating system, but is not affected by the United States government ban on Huawei using American technology. That means the phone operates like an Android 10 phone, but does not run Google Mobile Services (GMS), which includes the Play Store and its automatically updated apps.

Instead, it uses Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), which replaces the likes of Google Assistant with Huawei Assistant, and allows services like Gmail to run on top of a built-in email service. It allows browser-based versions of any Google service, like YouTube, to be accessed via an on-board browser,  and includes workarounds for various other commonly used Google apps.

At first sight, one gets the sense that HMS and EMUI10.0.1 will quickly teach users that they are not as heavily dependent on Google apps as they may have imagined. Our first half hour spent on the phone suggested very little commonplace functionality that was not easily available. On a personal level, once Gmail is sorted for me, my apps needs are highly specific, rather than being dictated by an ecosystem – whether HMS or GMS.

But let’s get back to the Falcon Wing design. It was first used on the origjnal Mate X, but the new version, which features more than 100 interlocking parts, is made with a zirconium-based liquid metal, resulting in a hinge that is both more durable and provides a more satisfying 180-degree fold.

@arr2gee

#Huawei’s new foldable #smartphone is our. Check out the #MateXs in folding action #foryou

♬ original sound – arr2gee

The flexible display uses a two-layer polymer structure, manufactured by adhering two layers of aerospace-grade polyimide with an optically clear adhesive. This, says Huawei, allows the display to produce great image quality, colour saturation and brightness while retaining a high degree of durability. 

In folded mode, the Mate Xs is a dual-screen smartphone, with a 6.6-inch main screen on the front and a 6.38-inch secondary screen on the back. The secondary screen folds into an edge which serves as a grip when the device unfolds into an 8-inch tablet.

Unfolded, the Xs comes into its own. It offers Multi-screen Collaboration, which Huawei says “breaks down the boundaries between Windows and Android devices”. This means that it allows content to be moved easily between supported devices, and can allow two systems to be controlled from one device.

The phone also provides seamless Multi-window support, allowing two apps to be opened side by side, with a third one “floating” on top, and allowing content to be dragged between the apps – including text, images and documents. The Floating Window can be used to respond to instant messaging, for example, without closing the other apps.

Talking of apps, the Mate Xs debuts a revamped AppGallery, which Huawei intends to develop as a replacement for the Google Play Store. The company would, of course, want to suggest that it is a superior option, but that could take a few years more.

Read more on the next page about the cameras on the Mate Xs, along with the device specs.

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Surviving tax season: An accountant’s tech guide

As we approach the February tax-year deadline, Xero SA country manager COLIN TIMMIS offers tech tips for tackling the number-crunching

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We’re approaching the end of February, which means it’s officially coming to the end of the tax and financial year. It’s a difficult time for accountants and businesses as admin piles up, and task lists get longer by the day. And to top it all off, it’s summer too.

The good news is that it doesn’t need to be a time drain. Research from Xero found that accountants can save up to 15 hours a week by using cloud accounting. That’s an average of 54 hours per month or 27 days – an entire annual holiday allowance, plus change. When respondents were asked what they would do with this spare time, of those who chose non-work related activities, 30% would spend more time with family, while 22% selected more time at the beach.

Together with Simon Magner, Xero partner and Director of Iridium Business Solutions, we’ve come up with a checklist to help accountants and small businesses prepare for this busy time.

Ensure your bookkeeping is up to date

The first thing you need to do is to make sure that your bookkeeping is accurate and up to date. You don’t want to be scrambling for the information that you need at the last minute – doing the legwork to make sure all the data is ready will pay off in dividends when you come to generating the year-end report.

Check employee data

Remember that your employee data needs to be up to date, and it isn’t up to your employees to sort this out. If it’s not your responsibility to collect this data, warn the relevant people about the year-end in advance. You’ll need to gather all information on payroll and bonuses, while also collecting all receipts for expenses.

Use technology to help you

Admin-heavy work like invoicing, transaction imports, reconciliation, payments – and more – are time-consuming. Even though software can do all these tasks, they’re often done manually by accountants and business owners – which means there is more room for human error. Xero research reflects this too – a quarter of accounting and finance professionals said they could work smarter if they spent fewer hours on administrative tasks.

Having up to date records in real time using cloud accounting software allows you to make better business decisions in terms of your tax position and avoid any costly mistakes.

Don’t let the leap year fool you

Even though 2020 is a leap year, the last working day is the 28th of February – so don’t think you can file your return on the 29th. On that note, don’t leave it until the 28th, either – just in case issues pop up at SARS on the last filing day of the tax year.

Use previous data to guide you

Remember to use past data to inform your current return. Last year’s assessed profit should be used as a starting point to determine the minimum tax you should be paying as a business. And remember, if you made an assessed loss in prior years you could deduct it against the current year’s profits.

When experienced accounting professionals and business owners have to spend time inputting data, processing reports, and scrutinising invoices, they can’t work on strategy, pursue new business or developing client relationships. If accountants want to spend some time away from their desks during tax season, they need to invest in the right processes. It will save them time, energy and costly mistakes.

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