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The Digital Skills Gap and the Future of Education

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The Digital Skills Gap and the Future of Education

One LinkedIn survey revealed that on the list of top five emerging jobs, four require extensive digital and technological skills. AI and crypto-currency are here to stay, it seems. But even if you’re not interested in working in these fields, the truth of the matter remains - we live in an age where digital literacy is not optional. For real career advancement, one needs to always be learning and improving. And it’s been harder and harder to keep up. Not all is lost, though. We offer an overview of how the digital skills gap may affect the job market and lifelong learning. And ultimately, we’ll show you how you can adapt. 

The Ugly Truth

The Evolution of Work Life Balance

Technology is advancing rapidly, but there is a shortage of skilled workers. More and more businesses are taking the digital route. It helps improve their workflow, output, and quality assessment. However, not enough applicants hold the relevant knowledge, or have enough years of experience, precisely because of the fast pace of change.

What about Formal Education?

In an enticing paper titled “Bridging the Skills Gap in the Future Workforce”, Accenture company discusses how formal education falls severely behind in teaching relevant skills. Back in the 90s and 00s, it was perfectly acceptable to teach Word, Excel, and basic Photoshop skills in elementary and high school. However, nowadays children and youth are more than familiar with the software.

The problem lies in failing to teach them more complex terminology and programs. Even IT colleges are bound by the curriculum to teach outdated practices. This only leads to graduates who, unless they take learning upon themselves, get out of college unable to keep up with the market demand.  Relying on formal education is just another shot in the dark.

Why the Digital Skills Gap is a Good Thing

After all this, you might be wondering if there can even be something good about the digital skills gap. Allow us to shed some light on the upsides. You’ll see that not everything is as bad as it seems.

1.      The Market is New

The job market is booming, and now there are more diverse positions than ever. Given that, employers are likely to be lenient with job requirements. After all, everyone is fully aware of the digital skills gap. Even if you’re not after a job position that requires full technical knowledge, you can still gain a skill or two that will bump you up the applicant list.

2.      You're Not Alone

The digital skills gap affects everyone around the globe. So the bright side to it all is that you’re not alone. For example, WordPress help forums are filled with users of varying ages and backgrounds, helping each other when it comes to coding issues on their website. The bigger the gap, the more people you’ll find who are willing to take the reins and learn.

3.      There are Countless Learning Opportunities

As we’ve mentioned, there are plenty of avenues you can take to gain the skills and knowledge you believe you’re missing. Regardless of your age, digital literacy courses, business coaches and online materials are available to everyone who wants to learn. On top of it all, peer-to-peer learning has seen an increase in popularity, especially in the workplace. You no longer need a formal degree, as employers are nowadays more likely to accept course certificates, so long as the knowledge is there.

4.      Employers are Eager to Help

Last, but not least, companies are painfully aware of how much they’ll fall behind unless they engage in digital education as well. You might often see that job ads also list “Opportunities to learn and attend conferences and courses” as a benefit for working with certain companies. They hire coaches who help educate their employees, helping them stay keep up with the latest trends.

What it means for you

Well, it means several things. The digital skills gap is a real issue that is not going away any time soon. But this shouldn’t discourage you. You want to take a look at the job you want (or already have, but is rapidly changing), and see how you can use this opportunity to learn and grow. Aside from getting the job you want, you’ll build a set of skills that will make you practically irreplaceable.

In Summary

While the “digital skills gap” was being popularly used as a buzzword for a job market apocalypse, the reality is far from it. As every other difficulty in the global market – it’s merely a challenge. Talents for specific, high-end IT jobs may be hard to come by, but the rest can easily pick up the pace with some courses or with the help of business coaches. The proverbial train hasn’t left the station yet, and won’t for quite some time. So you might want to consider getting on it.

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michaeldeane Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.
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