We're living in a world where career considerations have to include a future-proofing plan.
Many people live in fear that their jobs will be lost due to artificial intelligence and other forms of technology. However, learning to look at the changing digital marketplace as evolutionary can provide a clear picture of how continuing education can help improve chances for job security today and into the future.
As jobs evolve and skills gaps widen, employees and employers need to look for ways to upgrade skills to ensure their skills and knowledge are relevant. For the education sector, these changes can provide great opportunities provided colleges, universities and training providers know how to tap into the marketplace.
Between 2012 and 2016, the Association for Talent Development analyzed over 30 million job descriptions asking for technology skills and experience.
They reported that 60% of the jobs listed included technology skills and experience for non-IT jobs and discovered some other interesting facts about the role technology plays in the workplace.
Beyond the IT Department
Today, an understanding of technology is required across all departments and functions. Although the IT department still fulfills an important role in providing technology to business, almost 80% of business leaders have recruited employees with technical skills or experience instead of being reliant on IT alone.
As well, over 75% of workers require analytics tools and technologies to perform their jobs. This trend is tied to an increase in digital marketing, products delivered online, and the growing use of the cloud.
Security skills are not related to loss prevention or building management. Instead, the rise of breaches circling around personal and corporate information pose a new threat that has transformed the need for heightened cybersecurity.
Chief information security (CIS) officer positions have risen in profile with 20% finding themselves in front of corporate boards of directors who want to know what they are doing to protect corporate information.
This means the role of the CIS has become a highly visible position. Security-related skills have also become a benefit for many marketing and finance job roles.
More than Computer Literacy
Computer literacy is a given for just about any job today. However, there is a growing demand for technology skills once reserved for IT positions such as “solutions design” and “user interface.”
These additions to job descriptions span many different roles including HR and finance. Other job requirements once designated to IT departments include analytics skills, digital management skills, and experience managing technology vendors.
Closing the Skills Gap
The increasing demand for technology skills shows the strong shift towards the digitized workplace and the new skills more jobs will require.
Technology should not be seen as something that will replace humans, but instead is the reason humans have to be forward thinking on skills development. The desire to re-educate even the most educated professional is more real than ever before.
Leaders and workers alike will have to consider how they can contribute to the changing digital landscape to close the skills gap created by changing technology. This rapid innovation requires a new mindset and skill set that is adaptive in nature.
The world has changed the way products and services are delivered. These changes have altered the way technology is used from the manufacturing floor to the way marketers advertise their products. Efforts at adaptation must be made to improve technical knowledge and experience in order to further careers that can be sustained well into the future.
The education sector has the perfect opportunity to tap into the demand for digital skills across roles and industries by providing up-to-date and industry aligned qualifications that are recognized in the workplace.
The Role of Education
The promise of increased productivity through automation raises questions for policymakers and business leaders who are struggling with the impact that automation will have across many facets of business.
That includes jobs, in general, the skill level required in existing and new roles, as well as areas such as expected wages in a changing job market.
Many areas are still unknown and challenge conventional ideas of employment. One of the greatest challenges is keeping pace with the changing skill set required by the digital marketplace. Most companies do not have an educational program in place to help workers maintain the relevant skills required to perform their jobs effectively.
At the same time, educational systems are not changing to keep pace with workplace demands. In fact, according to a McKinsey survey, 60% percent of employers and young people in nine countries agreed that new graduates did not have the proper skills to enter the workplace.
The Skills Gap
The same McKinsey survey found 40% of those surveyed cited lack of skills as the main reason for entry-level job vacancies. These gaps included technical skills as well as “soft skills” such as punctuality, teamwork, and communication.
The survey also refers to research conducted by LinkedIn found that workers feel they are not able to realize their full potential in their current roles. Of participants, 37% said they were not using their full skills and were in jobs that lacked challenge.
Digital disruption is the new industrial revolution. It calls for organizations to embrace technology and incorporate effective training and educational programs into the workplace. More and more employees are looking for organizations that focus on skills training to encourage career growth.
Two years ago, Cushman Wakeman published a study exploring the opportunities presented by digital disruption in the workplace. They surveyed graduates entering the workplace who listed three attributes that were the most important when job hunting:
- Professional training and development
- Creative and dynamic working environment
- Leaders who support my development
Perhaps even more telling was an increase in organizations introducing more digital tools such as:
- Customized mobile applications developed for internal use for both teamwork and customer interaction.
- Using AI such as Siri and Cortana to find corporate information, as well as robots being used for security and other interactive roles. Some organizations are even introducing their own AI assistants.
- Internal social media such as Yammer, Chatter, and WeWork, as well as customized apps, are providing new ways to reduce emails and offer instant conversations throughout an organization.
- Re-purposing existing applications such as WhatsApp offers an affordable way to communicate in group chats for special projects as well as corporate and customer communication.
All of this information points to internal training as the key to attracting talent and to ensuring staff can use digital tools in the workplace.
In a world where independent work is made easier thanks to technology, digital “enablement” makes independent work easier.
McKinsey’s independent work study reported 20 to 30% of those employed in the U.S. and Europe are engaged in independent work. Although 70% of this group chose independent work, the rest of the group were forced into independent work when they were unable to find a traditional job.
Those in the group who were forced to choose independent work cite income variability and the lack of benefits as reasons they do not prefer this mode of employment.
Companies who are going the independent worker route using digital platforms to enable working from home will have to find better solutions to meet the needs of independent workers. On the flip side, digital platforms empower those who prefer self-employment or contract work.
Digitization is opening opportunities globally and across all sectors. Education systems will have to evolve as will organizational training programs to help improve preparedness for a digitally driven workplace.
Creativity, critical thinking, and analysis will become the less traditional skills required to meet the challenges of the changing workplace. Systems and organizations that embrace adaptive, lifelong learning will prove to be the biggest talent draw now and into the future.