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Emerging Technologies & The Global Growing Skills Divide

How can we ensure we've got the skills to compete in the new tech economy.

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Emerging Technologies & The Global Growing Skills Divide


September 15, 2021


Tom Meehan

New world. New skills. It is no longer news that the fourth industrial revolution is upon us, and the effect is remarkably discernible in all sectors. While digital technologies are spreading wildly, the skill divide is growing at almost the same rate. Everyone should be able to participate, live, and learn in this new world. Therefore, the need to up-skill and re-skill has never been more urgent.

Data literacy has become an essential survival tool among employees and a required success tool for businesses. The rapid technological advancement (and the inability of companies/individuals to reskill as fast as technology advances) has created digital skill deficits and the skills divide we see in the workforce today. Bridging the digital divide gap is easier said than done.

Today, most large companies leverage Big Data to deliver more innovative products and services to end-users, but they are stumped when it comes to finding talent that understands how to collate, analyse and apply the insights from vast reams of data at their disposal. Most current employees aren't equipped with such skills most times recent graduates have mismatched skills. Hence the growing urgency to up-skill via professional courses tailored to such growing needs emulated by the current growing skills divide.

Listed below are steps on how to get it done.

How to Up-skill effectively for the emerging technologies

Up-skilling a workforce with novel digital skills impacts productivity greatly. And as an individual, it can be the difference between a career jump and a career leap that makes all the difference. Emerging technologies are predicted to change and improve how we work in the coming year… though their development and practical usage haven't been fully tapped. These technologies will change work processes - including how communication, designs, and data analysis is performed. Examples of such technologies are robotics, cloud/edge computing, IoT, biotechnology, nanotechnology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. Seen in almost every industry today are applications of Data Analytics, AI and automation, Blockchain, and Design thinking (including web development, UI/UX designs). The steps below will help you up-skill effectively for the emerging technologies.

1. Identify knowledge gap and digital skill deficit:

Before deciding to up-skill for any emerging technologies, evaluating your current skills as against the needed skill in your workforce is a must.  Realistically determine if you are well-positioned to partake in the data-rich economy or if emerging technologies are about to make your job or company obsolete.

2. Up-skill via learning and development:

This is probably the most efficient method of up-skilling since it involves getting trained and enrolling for professional courses. A company's learning and development strategy should make room for the following if it's to be effective. Skill Gap Analysis: This analysis is done to evaluate the current skills, the necessary skill, and how to improve on them.

  • Specification of learning objectives: Research and Evaluate the types of digital skills employees need. For effective up-skilling, emerging technologies relevant skills required in your industry must be acquired by the workforce. Individuals looking to up-skill might want to consider the following:

How relevant is the skill to the team?

Does it interest you?

Are you willing to switch careers if need be?

What is your career goal and how can this skill accelerate it?

Does it support remote work if you desire one?

How quickly can you gain mastery of the skill?

  • Design or select an effective training method: Accommodate different learning styles in your methods and also, empower employees to choose their path. When the freedom to choose a path is available, employees tend to take ownership of their growth and development. Training can be done to accommodate both traditional learners (via classroom, physical lectures, or seminars), micro-learners, and online learners. These training and development opportunities must be available and affordable for everyone, including the low performers. It helps to improve the overall productivity.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: Re-evaluate the skill gap deficit against the current growth level. For example, a web developer might enrol for a UI/UX design course on CodeClan or UX Academy (to name a couple), as a way of up-skilling as continued industry digitisation also drives entrepreneurs and small-business owners to learn new skills. An evaluation must be done to ascertain the growth level by comparing results with others. Reward yourself or employees for re-skilling or upskilling by giving an incentive for completing courses or training.

3. Engage employees' new skills or freelance your skill:

Getting trained is not enough, make good use of such knowledge until you attain mastery in it. An individual might choose to freelance or peer mentoring to improve on their digital skills. Employers can rotate jobs among employees within the same organisation but in different departments. Peer coaching among employees can help to refine, expand and improve the new skills acquired by teaching one another and finding ways to integrate the knowledge gained into different departments.

For example, in a digital marketing firm, employees might take professional courses covering: social media management, UI/UX design, content creation, copywriting, etc. These skills can be better utilized when there are opportunities for knowledge sharing and coaching. Soft skills like communication, leadership, active listening, emotional quotient, etc can be improved through this interaction. It's a win-win situation.

4. Hire experts and specialists:

Employing an expert is a great way for companies to access and leverage the skills they don’t have in-house. However, this option may be expensive and getting the right professional that fits in with the team and company culture may be difficult. Up-skilling by getting trained or taking professional courses is still the best way to thrive in this era of emerging technologies but it's time-consuming.

Sometimes, to remain in business, acting fast is key. By hiring external experts, the needed skills, and expertise are readily available. Also, the expert can be in charge of in-house training to bridge the previously lacked digital skills and prepare the employees for a possible takeover when the time comes. No doubt, up-skilling is one sure way to position for the takeover of emerging technologies. But how to up-skill effectively will not be possible without the knowledge of the right platform and courses to enroll for.

Tools and courses for Up-skilling

The upskilling process becomes easier and more effective with platforms, tools, and courses. These platforms accommodate different learning capacities, methods, and strategies. You are spoiled for choice on these platforms for your professional courses whether as an individual or employer because they accommodate short courses, specialist courses, micro-credentials, and online degrees

Acquiring a digital qualification through an online platform can greatly impact the value of your resume and can sometimes kickstart a new career altogether. As shown above, the global digital skills divide will be solved through training (especially professional courses), mentoring, and practicing. Like any skill gap before now, it's always an opportunity to enter the market space, and by up-skilling or re-skilling through courses, you position yourself or your workforce to become indispensable

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