Mind the Gap: Closing the Digital Skills Gap in the U.K

December 6, 2016

The digital skills gap in the U.K. is an increasing concern for not just the government—but for  employers and those hoping to be hired into a new generation of the workplace. In fact, they’re calling it a digital skills crisis. With 745,000 digital workers needed by 2017—a billion dollar shortfall is at stake for both the economy and the tech industry.

With 90% of jobs now requiring digital skills, organisations need to empower their team from the inside out—equipping them with the necessary digital skills it takes to stay. Job descriptions asking for social media skills are growing, and job seekers who invest in digital training and education are finding themselves in higher demand.

In this article we’ll look at what it means for job seekers, employees, and businesses to bridge the digital skills gap. We’ll discuss how the workplace is changing, the new types of jobs that are emerging, the skills you’ll need in organisations of the future, and the educational tools you can use to get ahead.

1. How the Workplace is Changing

Changes in the workplace

Today’s growth in technological capabilities has moved productivity online—with tools like Slack, an internal office communication program, and platforms like Skype that help bring global staff members together.

This increased digitization of the workplace means a number of things. It means being able to manage bigger pools of data through cloud computing services like Google Drive. It means more of your staff are “on” at all times as they’re able to access their work e-mail from their phones. It also means more companies are now using social—what with 94% of all businesses with a marketing department use social media to increase engagement, maintain a brand image, and to retain customers.

2. New Types of Jobs

New positions in the job market

Although widely in-demand now, positions like SEO Specialist, User Experience Architect, and App Developer didn’t exist 10 years ago. We’re also witnessing the addition and development of social media teams in most organisations–nearly 80% of businesses have one. However, a business’s digital aptitude depends on more than a social media manager.

A common trend that we’re seeing in more mature organisations are teams dedicated to engagement, social advocacy, and analytics. As opposed to a single team that handles marketing initiatives in one fell swoop, organisations have evolved to include specialists in each category.

Not every organisation is able to hire a specialist in each of these departments—small to medium-sized businesses may only have one individual as the source of truth for all of their digital efforts. And this is where training programs become crucial.

3. Skills You Will Need for The Organisation of The Future

The skills in demand

The Science and Technology Committee released a report highlighting that 90% of jobs in the U.K. require digital skills to some degree. These skills range from the ability to critically evaluate media, create content with imaging tools, and to communicate online–to more advanced and sought-out professional roles. For example, a study from Hired.com shows that the demand for a UI designer has increased by 323 percent in 2016. Interest in data engineers have grown to 234 percent, and 184 percent in HTML/CSS engineers.

4. Educational Tools to Get Ahead

The need for education

Businesses are estimated to come up short of 40,000 graduates for the next year. While many organisations expect employees to have these digital skills, few are actually providing the training and education that can help develop them. As technology grows to transform businesses—the organisation that fails to properly train and educate its employees is an organisation that’s already falling behind.

The benefits of training...

Receiving the proper training to master these technologies is imperative to staying relevant in the digital era. Digitally savvy staff may be more likely to invest more time into employee brand advocacy and less likely to commit the social media blunders that we’re all too familiar with.

Digital tools to get ahead

For the most part, formal educational institutions are lagging behind when it comes to providing the digital training so badly needed in the U.K.. Rather, tech giants like Microsoft have come to the rescue with partnered programmes like risual Microsoft Academy made available to job seekers.  

Many employees in the workforce weren’t taught these skills as part of a formal education. Instead of going back to school, online education makes it easy for anyone to stay on the right side of the growing skills gap.  

Four eLearning sources to help you skill up:

Coursera

Coursera has an extensive list of partnerships with some of the most reputable universities around the world. The online education provider offers thousands of courses from universities like Stanford and the University of Michigan in subjects concerning data science to Buddhism.

Lynda

Brought to you by LinkedIn, Lynda.com is an online learning platform that teaches you anything from building an Android or iOS app on Dreamweaver to more niche topics like wide-angle underwater photography. Its video-based training courses and the fact that they have tutorials in five languages makes Lynda a top eLearning resource.

Codecademy

As the name suggests, Codecademy teaches you how to code and design websites in specific languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This online learning platform is most credited for its ability to make programming fun and interactive through projects and quizzes available in each course.

Hootsuite Academy

In an industry where there isn’t a lot of accreditation options for social media know-how, Hootsuite Academy offers a tangible way to recognize your knowledge through industry-recognized credentials. Hootsuite Academy has educated over 200,000 professionals and certified over 30,000 professionals on topics ranging from an introduction to social media marketing to more advanced tactics. Courses are free and video-based.

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