There can be no doubt that in a very short space of time our workplaces have changed, possibly forever. As a consequence, we are already seeing a shift in the essential skills we will all need.
With companies like Twitter, Square and Facebook telling their employees that working from home could now be permanent, whether or not a Covid-19 vaccine can be found, some form of remote working is likely to become the “new normal” for many. A recent report from GitLab found that 84% of the employees it surveyed said that they could accomplish all of their tasks remotely and 86% see remote work as the future.
Worryingly, the job market, for young people especially, is likely to contract massively over the next 12 months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. As this House of Commons report highlights, some workers are disproportionally economically impacted by the outbreak. Low paid workers are more likely to work in shut down sectors and less likely to be able to work from home. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, one third of employees in the bottom 10% of earners work in shut down sectors, and less than 10% of the bottom half of earners say they can work from home.
There can be little doubt that people are going to have to develop new skills to cope with changing working environments. So what are these skills, how can you acquire them and where does Digital Innovators fit in?
Let’s start with a few from Bernard Marr highlighted in this article.
Creativity & Innovation
This is something employers are going to need more than ever. It is no longer going to be good enough just to turn up, do your job and go home again (especially if your home and workplace are one and the same). You will need to know not just how to use digital technology, but how to apply technology in new and interesting ways to solve some of the world’s most wicked problems.
In a world that is seemingly awash with fake news and dodgy data, the skills to be able to question the ‘facts’, make proper use of data, understand how bias affects what people say or do, and sometimes just to ask why, is more important than ever.
Technology is changing so rapidly no one can be certain they will be doing the same job in the same way for the same employer in five, or maybe even two, years time. The knowledge that students learn at college and university now has a short shelf-life and learning needs to become a lifelong ambition if we are to keep our skills current and to be effective in our jobs. Happily we live in a time where it has never been easier to learn new skills through a multitude of different online websites.
It is vitally important that we all have an understanding of new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, blockchain and virtual reality if we are to understand:
- how to use these technologies to solve problems
- when and how they may usurp our current jobs.
Whilst you don’t actually need to know how to build solutions using such technologies, understanding them will help you differentiate yourself in the job market.
Digital Innovators would add the following essential skills that you need to develop if you are to thrive in a post-coronavirus job market.
Design thinking is an approach to problem solving that puts users at the centre of the solution. It includes proven practices such as building empathy, ideation, storyboarding and extreme prototyping to create new products, processes and systems that really work for the people that have to live with and use them.
Coping with change and having strategies in place to deal with stress and working in new, different and more flexible ways is becoming essential. Developing resilience and knowing when to call on others for help and guidance is one of the key skills we teach.
Effective communication skills, whether they be written spoken or aural, as well as the ability to present ideas well, have always been important. In a world where we are increasingly communicating through a vast array of different channels, we need to adapt our core communications skills to thrive in a virtual as well as an offline environment.
The ethical aspects on the use of digital technology in today’s world is something that seems to be sadly missing from most courses in digital technology. We may well churn out tens of thousands of developers a year, from UK universities alone, but how many of these people ever give anything more than a passing thought to the ethics of the work they end up doing? Is it right, for example, to build systems of mass surveillance and collect data about citizens that most have no clue about? Having some kind of ethical framework within which we operate is more important today than ever before.
At Digital Innovators, we have recently announced our new Skills Programme, for which is being supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority, and will equip trainees with all of the above skills, and more, to improve your job opportunities as well as strengthening your CV.
If you are interested in finding out more you can register your details here.