Amp Your Digital Skills Now
As machines become increasingly more accurate and intelligent, we humans will need to sharpen our skills. One of your primary responsibilities as a Learning & Development leader is to sharpen your skill and ensure that you empower the workforce to develop the four sets of skills critical to thriving in 2030. I have compiled a series of articles titled eLearning Skills 2030 to explore the key skills to help you future-proof your career and lead your team. This article explores digital skills, why they are critical, and what actionable steps you can take today to strengthen them.
What Are Digital Skills?
As discussed in my related article on digital literacy, digital skills focus on what digital tool to use when, and how to use it. In contrast, digital literacy focuses on why to use one platform over another and what are the related opportunities and risks related to that particular digital platform. So, if we use a basic example of a digital platform like Linkedin, digital skills focus on using Linkedin, how to use it to create a profile, post a comment, connect with others, or take a Linkedin learning course, etc. Digital literacy focuses on why you need to use Linkedin instead of another platform like Twitter to expand your network, learn new skills, and post articles, and what are the opportunities (e.g., creating a professional platform, learning from others) and risks (e.g., bots or fake Linkedin profiles) of doing so. Gen Y, Gen Z, and now Gen Alpha have grown up in a digital world, and they inherently have all the basic digital skills and more using the known platforms. Digital skills for 2030 include sharpening skills around more complex tasks such as creating digital content using User Experience (UX), developing algorithms, and integrating technologies to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual and Augmented reality (VR and AR).
Why Are Digital Skills Important?
Digitalization has changed the way we do work across processes and supply chains, making these skills must-haves today. According to research conducted by the Rand Corporation, 69% of all job postings in economies globally, including the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore, all require a digital skillset. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for these skills has far outpaced the supply resulting in a skills gap which in turn is impacting global GDP growth. According to Accenture, by 2028, the gap in digital skills may cost the G20 countries an estimated $11.5 trillion in total gross domestic product growth (GDP).
How Can You Strengthen Your Digital Skills?
According to the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, the basic digital skills  include research information online, handling sensitive information in digital ecosystems, creating and managing online documents, and using shortcuts when navigating platforms. Additionally, you will need to be able to navigate e-commerce platforms, manage social media platforms, use basic coding and programming, navigate the network and information security, manage content and UX design, develop and edit videos, use data analytics, data visualization, and data storytelling. You can strengthen your digital skills by learning through free online courses, tutorials, and certificates, increasing your online presence, practicing on the job, staying informed about digital trends, and pursuing formal certificates.
Learn With Free Online Courses, Tutorials, And Certificates
Some of the best resources to make use of for increasing your digital skills are websites with free online courses that teach you, especially if they have interactive tools and videos to help you learn. Online learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Pearson, Coursera, Udemy, and many others offer access to in-demand skills as well. Dedicated certificate programs at universities Stanford, UNLV, and several others can help you deepen your digital skills and provide you with the training you need to successfully navigate today’s workplace. You can also search on YouTube for specific how-to videos on specific steps or skills you want to improve.
Cultivate Your Online Presence
People are increasingly relying on having an online presence to communicate with one another, including keeping each other informed of their day-to-day activities. Establishing a social media presence on popular websites like Linkedin, Twitter, or Instagram will allow you to connect and broaden your personal and professional network.
Practice On The Job
The best way to enhance these skills is to incorporate some basic skills into your daily routine on the job. As you acquire more digital skills, small daily steps can have a significant impact. Create a new social media profile as a starting point. Once you’re comfortable with that, consider using an app to keep all your notes, tasks, and important documents and information organized in one place. Learn a few shortcuts and put them to use as you navigate your organizational platform like Microsoft365.
Stay Informed About Digital Trends
Staying informed about digital trends is a key component in maintaining your digital skills over time. There are several websites to use, including:
DigitalTrends – includes broad tech news and reviews of the latest software and hardware.
Lifewire – provides tutorials on digital skills, how-to guides, and thousands of product reviews from tech industry experts.
Cnet – offers numerous digital resources, including product reviews, how-to tips, and software and hardware reviews, among general digital trends.
The volume, velocity, and complexity of change, along with the impact of the pandemic, have accelerated digital transformation and have forced organizations to reimagine who they connect with their employees, customers, and stakeholders. According to research conducted by Salesforce, only 17% of the global survey respondents think of themselves as “advanced” in workplace digital skills , which underscores the gap between the workplace demand and supply of digital skills.
Digital skills are foundational as they help people communicate and collaborate, develop and share digital content, and problem-solve in a work-anywhere world. You will need to strengthen your own digital skills by leveraging the numerous learning resources available online, cultivating your online presence, practicing small steps daily on the job, and staying abreast of digital trends. Additionally, as a leader, you also have the responsibility to also inspire and empower your team to also cultivate their digital skills so that they can continue to grow and thrive today, in 2030, and beyond.