Digital Skills are Key to Career Success

Earlier this month I wrote about some new research that was exploring the kind of character traits that go into making the ’perfect employee’.  It was based upon extensive analysis of what traits employers were looking for in their employees, and discovered that traits such as conscientiousness were the most popular.

That kind of personality and mindset is essentially the bedrock of ones ongoing success, because it provides you with the platform upon which you can develop new skills and update your proposition to potential employers.

It chimes with a recent statement from the UK’s digital skills advisor, who reinforced the need for a culture of continuous learning and development.

Baroness Shields made her announcement at the launch of the government’s new Digital Business Academy. The Academy will be offering a range of free business and digital based courses over an initial six week period to any individual that wants help starting or growing their business. The initial offering has proved incredibly popular, with over 1,000 budding entrepreneurs signed up pre-launch.

The project is a joint effort between University College London and Tech City, which was itself formed by the government to provide support and assistance to tech based start-ups in the United Kingdom.  The aim is to boost the digital skillset within the UK workforce.

Filling the digital skills deficit

The news comes shortly after a recent report published by mobile phone company O2, which revealed that the nation will need around 750,000 digitally literate workers to meet the rapidly growing demand from employers for such employees by 2017.

“Almost a third of all job growth in the past three years have come from digital businesses. The way the economy is moving, you’re going to have to dip in and out of education your whole life to stay relevant and keep your skills up. Gone are the days where you could get one degree and that’s it,” Baroness Shields said in a statement.

The project, which was 18 months in the making, aims to provide users with just the right skills to thrive in the job market.  She revealed that the target market will range from recent graduates at one end, to mothers returning to the workforce at the other.

It is questionable how relevant the skills will be, as it’s revealed that the courses will cover things such as building a brand, basic social media marketing and the preparation of a marketing plan. It doesn’t seem as though slightly more sought after skills such as computer programming will be offered in any great numbers.

Despite this apparent lack of rigour, the project has been endorsed by a number of industry heavy weights, including Microsoft, O2 and the BBC.

“We’re trying to turn Britain into a digital powerhouse. Everybody needs to acquire digital skills to function in the new world,” Baroness Shields concluded. “The tech economy will keep growing, there’s no doubt about that.”

Will such relatively basic skills provide the workforce with the ability to do that? It seems unlikely. It is clear that continuous learning is going to be an essential trait for success in the modern world, and that digital skills will be increasingly important.  However, it is unclear whether this new initiative will do much to alter either of those things.

After all, we live in a world where Massive Open Online Courses are delivering free courses to thousands around the world already, and there are numerous sites where one can learn and test your coding skills online already.  Is the Digital Skills Academy likely to offer anything that Code Academy (for instance) doesn’t?  I’m not so sure, but I suppose time will tell.

What do you think?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Image: iStock




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