There is a significant gap across businesses that many folks are feeling the ramifications of. It’s the digital skills gap — the gap between the digital technology skills that today’s employees possess and those they should posses in order to work in today’s digital economy.
A study from tech research company IDC suggests that inadequate digital skills rob our economy of 21% of employee productivity. That equates to an overall $1.3 trillion loss in the US economy each year due to decreased productivity. For firms with 1,000 employees, that productivity hit can translate to an annual loss of about $10 million. But even smaller companies can be experiencing pain at their bottom lines due to the digital skills gap.
What digital skills are the most essential for 21st century workers to possess? While the need for specific skills can vary from industry to industry and company to company, below are the eight recommended digital skills to help your company close its digital skills gap from the ground up:
- Working with digital documents — this includes the ability to efficiently create, navigate and share digital documents for the purpose of storing data and information, conducting analyses, and communicating ideas with others within a business.
- Collaboration for project management — includes those skills necessary for workers to collaborate across departments, offices and with remote workers on projects as a team using digitized workplace workflow and project management tools.
- Attention management and focusing — includes the “soft” skills necessary for employees to discern and focus on tasks with the highest priority — such as time and attention management skills — without becoming distracted.
- Communication skills — includes both inbound and outbound skills ensuring that information can be quickly, clearly and efficiently communicated between workers, employees and customers, to prospects and others.
- Digital communications etiquette — includes what is often called “netiquette” which are informal dos and don’ts of communicating within the online realm, including via social media platforms.
- Search and research skills — includes the ability to digitally sort through voluminous information and data, find and tap into both online resources as well as company’ proprietary databases for individuals, students, academics and business employees.
- Platform flexibility — includes the skills necessary to fluidly navigate among an increasing array of digital devices which includes smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more.
- Managing security and privacy — includes the skills necessary to safely navigate the Internet, how to be cautious of potential security and data breaches, sidestep computer viruses and malware, and mitigate personal and professional reputational damage.
The good news is that these digital skills can be learned, and are easily attainable with the right training and professional development plan. No business has to stagnate or succumb to costly productivity lapses because of its digital skills gap.
Businesses of all sizes and shapes can start by clearly defining what goals they wish to achieve within each department, sector or business unit, then by determining how an upgrade of some or all of these core digital skills can move them closer to those goals. A candid assessment of what digital skills current employees have, and those skills that are lacking, can then be done. Finally, a plan of action can be developed as to how to upgrade employees' digital skills over the short-term and longer-term horizon.
About the Author:
Jeff Fernandez is co-founder and CEO of Grovo, helping to educate the digital workforce with an end-to-end video training platform that provides quality results in the shortest amount of time.