The digital world is continuously evolving, and technology is making its way into every aspect of our lives. As a result, there is an increasing demand for professionals who can navigate this fast-paced environment. The need for employees to be digitally literate is growing, basic digital skills are no longer enough. But what are digital skills exactly? This is what we have set out to answer in this article.
What exactly are digital skills
At the most basic level, digital skills refer to the essential skills needed to use computers and digital devices to access and manage information. However, digital skills go beyond basic knowledge and cover more complex sets of skills. There are two categories: basic digital skills and advanced digital skills, so keep reading.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation, as roughly 70% of full-time employees switched to working from home. As a result, the demand for all employees to have basic digital skills increased.
Government bodies, like the House of Lords in the UK, recognize digital skills as the third core subject, along with numeracy and literacy. Employers who want to future-proof their business by introducing digital technologies have to recognize the importance of digital skills and create an environment where employees can upskill and reskill their digital skills.
What are basic digital skills?
At the basic skill level, digital literacy for younger generations—think of Millenials and Gen Z— comes as second nature, as they were brought up with technology; whereas, older generations may actively have to learn digital skills.
Basic digital skills are grouped into six categories:
- Digital foundation skills – is the ability to navigate digital technologies such as web browsers and search engines, and keep passwords secure.
- Communicating – is using communication applications like email and social media to communicate with others.
- The handling of information and content – having digital awareness and understanding the digital footprint we leave behind.
- Transacting – is the ability to use online resources to complete basic tasks like paying the bills and doing online shopping.
- Problem-solving – is the ability to navigate search engine results to find solutions to problems and answers.
- Being safe and legal online – understand how to keep yourself safe in the digital sphere.
More and more employers are expecting potential candidates or job seekers to hold the above-mentioned basic skills.
What are advanced digital skills?
As of 2021, the global digital transformation market size was evaluated at USD 608.72 billion and is expected to grow further by 23.1% from 2022 to 2030, thus, increasing the demand for digital skills. The ability to use a computer no longer sets potential employees apart from other candidates.
Although some digital skills are sector-specific, we went ahead and identified the most popular in-demand skills:
- Digital Marketing – the internet has forever changed how marketing works. Nowadays, digital marketers specialize in one or more types of digital marketing:
- Social media marketing – utilizes social media platforms to promote products or services, usually aimed at the B2C market.
- Search engine marketing – promotes websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results.
- Email marketing – as the name implies, using an email to send commercial messages to customers. Email marketing is especially successful in promoting products of an online store to potential or existing customers.
- Social media marketing – utilizes social media platforms to promote products or services, usually aimed at the B2C market.
- Social Media digital skills – 85% of company executives agree that social media data will be the primary source of business intelligence in the future. Thus, employers will be looking for individuals who not only can use social media but also social media tools, measure performance, and understand how to present and market a brand online.
- User Experience – is the combination of technical skills and workplace skills that make websites, apps, and online experiences more intuitive and enjoyable. As an employer don’t overlook the importance of this advanced digital skill, 88% of online users said they would not return to a website after having a bad user experience.
- Web Analytics – the digital skill that collects, measures, and performs data analysis and reporting of web data, to understand better and optimize web usage. Here, what is as equally important is data visualization, businesses need the big data to be presented in a clear, easy-to-understand way to make intelligent business decisions.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) – is a relatively new digital skill set that teaches machines to perform tasks, predict, and make decisions based on the raw data provided.
Most in-demand digital skills
So far, we have covered the basic and advanced digital skills. Let us now focus on the most in-demand digital skills.
- Cybersecurity – refers to the basic knowledge of how to protect computers, digital devices, and networks from information disclosure, theft, damage, or breach of electronic data.
- Programming, Web, and App Development – is a familiarity with core programming languages for web and app development. Fun fact, there are anywhere between 700 and 9,000 programming languages.
- Customer Service – refers to the ability to navigate through customer relationship management systems used to manage customer interactions.
- Digital Image and Video Editing – is the ability to use infographics, tutorials, and scaling videos to present big data or promote a product.
- Cloud Technology and E-commerce – is the knowledge of how-to-access programs and data through the internet rather than relying on computer hard drives.
- Digital Business Analysis – knowledge of data analytics tools helps businesses make wiser choices. As digital transformation is central to all organizations in the digital economy, digital business analysis skills have become the most in-demand digital skill.
- Digital Project Management – refers to understanding how digital projects are developed and the ability to manage them using SCRUM and AGILE methodologies.
- Digital Product Management – having the ability to develop, define, deliver, observe and refine digital products to maximize results.
As technology evolves and digital transformation continues to shape how businesses operate, the list of digital skills will continue to grow. New job opportunities will be opening up, and we will see a growth in the creation of new roles, so the key is for potential employees to learn new skills.
Most employers are already aware of this. LinkedIn research shows that digital upskilling and digital transformation is one of the top three focus areas for L&D programs in 2022.
Which jobs require digital skills?
The latest European Commission report found that 90% of professionals (even agricultural workers) should possess basic digital skills. Therefore, the short answer is nearly all jobs require basic digital skills.
The positions that require more advanced digital skills are as follows:
- Mobile app development
- Customer Service
- Journalists and creative writers
- Software developers
How big is the digital skills gap?
The rise in the use of technology is not on par with the growing number of skilled candidates. We are making technological advances and incorporating more technology into our daily lives, but we are not generating enough candidates with the right digital skills. As a result, we are facing a growing skills gap.
We should not ignore the digital skills gap, as it comes with repercussions. The latest forecasts estimate that 14 of the world’s major economies can miss out on $11.5 trillion cumulative GDP growth.
Right now, the realities are bleak for employers. It is estimated that 85 million jobs will go unfilled globally by 2030 due to the digital skills gap. The decisions companies make now, whether to tackle the skills gap or not, will directly influence future generations.
It is the technological advancements that dictate what digital skills employers will seek. Thus, it is within the employer’s best interests to invest in their employee upskilling and reskilling.
How to get the most out of digital upskilling
Developing digital skills is crucial. The World Economic Forum estimates that 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling by 2022. The need to upskill employees will differ across regions. For example, the European Commission estimates that 37% of workers in Europe do not possess basic digital skills.
Therefore, there is a real need for employers to focus on upskilling and reskilling their employees.
Digital upskilling refers to the process of giving employees the skills and knowledge they need to improve their digital literacy. It focuses on enhancing employees’ skills by adding to the existing skill set within a role.
Reskilling on the other hand refers to the process of learning new skills needed to do an entirely different job. As machines continue to replace humans, instead of leaving those employees behind, employers can reskill them, turning a warehouse worker into a robot technician, for example. As a result, employees will be able to fill in the company’s emerging staffing needs and continue to stay relevant. Reskilling also presents individual employees with the opportunity to change roles, and ensure they stay relevant within the ever-changing job market.
Employers should prepare for the disruption caused by the digital skills gap by making digital upskilling possible within the workplace. The top 3 strategies to future-proof your business are:
- Start with mapping the digital skills your employees have (“as is”)
- Set the target level of digital skills you need to reach your business goals (“to be”)
- Design clear, actionable steps to go from the current to desired skill levels
To do that, you can:
- Help employees find mentors.
- Design custom learning programmes integrated with your talent management solutions.
- Purchase subscriptions to e-learning services like Coursera, HubSpot or Linkedin Learning and give your employees access to the platforms where they can learn additional skills.
- Have a learning day where employees work half a day, and the second half is dedicated to acquiring new skills.
- Create programs or initiatives where employees can take time out of their working day to complete certified courses. Some courses can be pricey, which can deter employees, so why not create a fund that will cover some or all of the course price? Remember it is not just the employee who is benefiting from this.
However, as an employer, you should be mindful of what skills your employees choose to upskill or reskill. You, as the employer, need to understand your employee’s strengths and weaknesses before helping them reach their full potential, keeping in mind that L&D efforts should always support achieving your business objectives.
Benefits of mapping skills as a talent
The ability to identify and address skills gaps, fuels business growth.
The DevSkiller TalentBoost talent management and skill mapping platform can:
- Help businesses identify skill gaps within the company. Based on the data provided, employers can then make the right decisions whether to hire, promote or upskill employees.
- Identify clear progression routes for employees by identifying their prerequisites to progress within a particular skill. Introducing clear career paths will keep employees motivated and happy.
- Have data support the HR decisions you made with regards to hiring and letting employees go.
- Maximize employee skill training and reduce the costs of training by clearly understanding which employee is perfectly suited for which digital skills.
- Streamline projects by identifying the right employees for them.
According to those reports mentioned previously, thanks to digital transformation, digital skills are now prevalent in 90% of professions. However, 88% of workplaces have not addressed the digital skills gap. As a result, 14 of the G20 countries are facing an $11.5 trillion drop in GDP growth. The digital skills gap is a real threat to businesses and their annual revenue.
However, this can change if employers place more importance on digital skills, more specifically upskilling and reskilling their employees. DevSkiller TalentBoost can help you to identify skill gaps in your company and create clear progression routes for your employees.