Amid Rising Unemployment, PwC Launches Free Digital Business App to Help Upskill Workforce of the Future

Gloria Salinas, Managing Director, Economic Development

As pandemic unemployment rates escalated to new heights, PwC began searching for a way to help displaced workers access new skills.

On April 10, the consulting firm launched a free version of its Digital Fitness app. A week later, the digital tool that helps build technology skills had 14,300 downloads and quickly climbed into the No. 50 spot of Top 100 Business Apps list in the Apple App Store.

“With the overnight shift to remote working and limited employment models, the world needs new skills now more than ever to improve the ways of working and to help modernize the workforce,” PwC Partner Tom Codd said. “There has never been a more important time to feel connected, stay informed, and live our values. That’s why we’ve provided free access to the Digital Fitness app.”

The app was created two years ago as PwC began an internal journey aimed at closing digital knowledge gaps within the organization and inspiring new ways of working and thinking around rapidly changing technologies. The average age of the firm’s 55,000 U.S. employees is 27, and college graduates account for nearly 12,000 of the firm’s annual new hires, compared to nearly 7,000 mid-career hires. As technology began to change the business landscape, the app successfully helped unite the firm’s digital divide, Codd said. Shortly after its internal success, the app was launched for clients.

“It’s helped us effectively deal with the current transformation of the business environment and what it means to be digital,” Codd said.

The app’s opening assessment asks the user about his/her behavior, relationship, mindset, and skills around various digital technologies, and then gives a score on a 420-grading scale. The user can customize skills development in 60 emerging digital trend categories, from artificial intelligence to robotics, to boost his/her score while learning more about the various tech topics in short one-to-two-minute segments.

As the number of unemployed surges, Drexell Owusu, Dallas Regional Chamber Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce, is also focusing on future workforce initiatives, such as the revamped DRC and Say Yes to Dallas jobs for displaced workers website that also provides access to training programs for the unemployed in the Dallas Region.

“The definition of normal going forward will be an increased need for attention on digital skills in the workplace,” Owusu said. “People who have high-tech skills are generally staying employed during the pandemic.”

Of those recently displaced in Dallas County, 43 percent have a high school diploma/GED or less, and another 28 percent have only some college, but no degree, Owusu noted.

“E-commerce, automation, remote work, and digital learning are all going to be on the rise after the pandemic,” he said. “A realistic outcome is that there will be a need to have people with the right digital exposure. It will be even more important.”

Tools such as the PwC Digital Fitness app are great at benchmarking skills gaps in digital knowledge and understanding that it can be improved, Owusu said.

“One reason we are doing this now is in an effort to provide upskilling to members of the communities that we value deeply; including members of the military, teachers, students, families of essential workers, businesses, and unemployed professionals facing new challenges,” Codd said. “The app empowers people to stay relevant, boost their digital acumen, and access resources to navigate COVID-19’s impacts.”

Inside the app:

In addition to tech trends and other learning content, the free version of the Digital Fitness app includes COVID-19 resources, such as:

  • Relevant health and business insights about the coronavirus, including public advisories, risks, and implications for the workforce;
  • Tips and planning ideas for families during this crisis, including working remotely and coronavirus tax relief; and
  • Resources for K-12 education, including projects to keep children engaged, virtual classroom platforms, and leading practices around virtual learning.

How to access the Digital Fitness app:

Say Yes to Dallas Workforce Training Programs:

For more information on workforce training programs in the Dallas Region, visit Say Yes to Dallas and our DRC Employee Training Resources.