Digital Skills For The Future Of Work
“An estimated 17.1 million (52%) people still lack the digital skills required in the workplace.”
There’s no question that digital skills, of some level, can now be considered essential in the workplace; within the EMEA region, 80% of working professionals are required to have basic digital skills abilities. We work with some of the largest global tech companies and so we see the need for digital skills is constantly growing and now crosses almost all industries and roles, so much so that within the next 10 years, 90% of jobs will require some sort of digital skills (Gov.uk, 2016).
The need for digital skills does not mean everyone now needs to know how to code a new platform from scratch; these needed skills come in a tier of difficulty and complexity, from basics which are needed to function as part of and communicate with a modern workforce, to industry-specific tools and security practices, up to, yes, the development and design of platforms and everything in between. The point is that we all need to be digitally literate in 2020 and are personally responsible for developing new skills which will allow us to move forward with the businesses we work for.
The digital skills gap is frightening considering that today 82% of all job vacancies require digital skills and a shocking 27% of those in full-time tertiary education are concerned their digital skills aren’t good enough for the future of work (Lloyds digital skills index, May 2020).
When considering the bigger picture of digital literacy, we must also look at those currently excluded from the workforce because of their lack of digital skills – experiencing unemployment because of it, and those who are already in the workforce but do not possess all of the digital skills they need to be effective in their position. 17.2 million within the workforce lack the support and skills to unlock their potential at work and 52% of the current workforce lack the essential digital skills required for work. (Lloyds, 2020).
The Importance Of Upskilling
It’s disconcerting that only 23% of the population feel they have received digital skills training and support. The question is -is it up to the individual or the organisation to provide this training? In reality, a two-prong approach is the best way to ensure that individuals are developing in the areas and at the rate required to keep up with changing demands, technologies and industry development. Individuals are responsible for seeking out their own opportunities for development and skills training, and businesses have a responsibility to provide development opportunities and skills training in the areas they identify as needed within the business or their employees’ skill sets. Unfortunately, only 23% of the UK workforce have received digital skills training from their employer (Lloyds, 2020).
The ways in which training can be introduced are vast and varied, this can be done online, in one-to-ones or in teams, skill-shares, in training sessions or in courses. There have been some really great examples showing the power of intergenerational mentoring, online training, drop-in hubs, and a number of other initiatives by large scale organisations.
We work with businesses regularly to build and develop their skill sets. Digital skills training is something we’re passionate about and we’re experienced in creating training packages to suit your businesses in-house or externally, for non-digital minds or experienced professionals, and we can even build a digital team from scratch. What’s important is the recognition that upskilling and development needs to take place at all.
The Importance Of Digitally Literate Employees
Digital literacy is a requirement of the 2020 workforce, without the digital literacy of their staff, organisations are unable to move at the pace that industries and technology around them demand. Digitally literate employees are more easily able to identify patterns, themes and changing trends in information and apply them effectively to their work; these employees have the skills to pivot in the fast, modern-day workplace.
Top 5 Digital Skills Required Within The Workplace
Collaborative Workplace Platforms
Workplace operations are now almost exclusively digital and increasingly collaborative. Written communications are online, via email and apps such as Hangouts Chat or Slack. Video conferences, calls and check-ins were a norm before 2020, and post-pandemic are an absolute necessity to connect with employees and peers, therefore the ability to use Skype, Hangouts or Zoom is a must. Documents are shared via Google Drive or OneDrive or pinged over via Dropbox, pinning the use of cloud technology as a relatively basic requirement, but surprisingly still an area where skills are lacking. Only 52% of individuals can access and use collaborative workplace platforms (Skype, google docs & Dropbox) to share and meet with teams (Lloyds, 2020). This includes knowing how to save the information and how to access and share it.
All of these skills are essential to being a valuable and connected, contributing member of the team. The ability to share documents, to work on them together, to quickly respond to messages and emails and to jump on to a video call to problem solve or catch up with your team are the skills which create agile and collaborative workforces.
Workplace Systems & Products
Moving on from the broadly used more basic workplace platforms, to the ability to understand and use other workplace systems such as Asana or Hubspot, along with a more complex understanding of the email and Drive systems that organisations use.
More specifically, these will alter with area of expertise or job role. Employees will be exposed to different applications in their individual roles – Marketing teams, for example, will use social media management and CMS platforms. Often employees experience multiple systems, working across teams and projects, and with clients. Therefore, it can be like driving a new car, it can take some time to remember which side of the car the windscreen wipers are on. For this reason, retraining, refreshing, new skills training and developing an understanding of new technologies should be constant.
In-depth knowledge and effective use of digital tools can also improve our productivity, saving us time on things which would otherwise be a manual task or streamlining with the simplicity of looping in another member of the team, as well as unifying business operations; currently, 51% of employees feel that they have that understanding.
Example: A co-worker who copies and pastes their signature into an email rather than have their emails configured to automatically insert this in each new email.
This is an example of how very basic training and understanding of digital systems used daily in a workplace is essential to ensuring employee productivity.
Cyber Security & Mobile Device Security
With the lion’s share of the work we complete, the communications we send and the data we collect now residing online, the safety and security of the systems we use, the data we store and the employees who operate them is a huge part of an organisation’s responsibility.
The whole workforce having an understanding of how cybersecurity works, practises they should be engaging in and what to look out for, can ensure everyone is operating safely when working – it’s imperative. This includes things like: being able to understand how to send documents securely, being vigilant with unknown email addresses, understanding the necessity of and use of MFA (Multi-factor authentication) or 2FA (two-factor authentication) and recognising the distinction between human and machine behaviour.
It’s a great idea for organisations to supply training on configuring secure access, anti-virus software, use of wifi, storage of company data and use of it in line with company policy for mobile devices, personal or work owned. However, entering a workplace with this know-how already and displaying an understanding of data storage, cybersecurity and mobile device security is highly desirable.
Data is changing the way people and organizations work across the world. GDPR, as of May 2018, is a skill which all roles can benefit from having an understanding of. Much of marketing requires the collection of information, and therefore the knowledge around how to properly collect and store this data. Do you have the skills required to be GDPR ready?
Not only is it valuable to be able to securely collect and store data but this data often needs to be analysed and presented to communicate it with other teams or management. The skill to use necessary tools, systems and applications to analyse and present the data collected from marketing efforts are highly desired by businesses in 2020.
The improper and unstructured storage of data can lead to lost data, and lacking security can lead to data being hacked, a very real risk in today’s organisations – a lack of understanding of file sharing and version control can be very costly for a business. Training staff in all aspects of data storage and management is invaluable to reducing those costly risks.
Content Creation & Digital Design Skills
This can be a broad area, today, the way we present information, internally and externally is incredibly valuable, meaning creative content and design skills are an area which you may want to develop, no matter what your role.
The ways in which these may come into play? Employees are often expected to engage all variations of stakeholders, not only customers, through content. These skills are required, of course, in a content marketing job role, but nowadays employees often need to exercise these skills in many other different roles too, this may be writing and sharing an e-newsletter, communicating a report, writing up an event or presenting documents to clients.
Employees with the skills to create clear and engaging content are incredibly valuable to today’s digitally connected organisation. In a nutshell, we have moved on from ‘paint’ and the rise in systems such as Adobe and Canva offer much more usable alternatives with significantly more effective outcomes.
From the basics which allow us to communicate and collaborate effectively, to the skills to manage data and creatively share this with teams, customers and stakeholders, digital skills and digital skills training is the future of the workforce. Not only learning but continuing to develop these skills, upskilling constantly is the responsibility of individuals and organisations. With the dedication of both parties to develop skills sets, workforces can begin to future-proof themselves and their organisations.