The skills needed for the future – FE News

Digitization is changing the skills people need to work. New digital tools continue to materialize to accomplish traditional workplace tasks, and technology-focused job opportunities are on the rise – from cloud computing specialist to digital marketing and analyst roles of data.

We must prepare today’s students for the world of work they will enter, while ensuring that those already in the workforce have the skills needed for the future. The world of technology is famous for its innovative and fast-paced nature. How can we best prepare tomorrow’s workers today?

What is the challenge?

In the next 10 to 20 years, 90% of jobs will require some form of digital proficiency to apply for or obtain a position. Millennials and Gen Z are often assumed to have the necessary skills; they are surrounded by technology from an early age. But the skills that students use in their social life often differ from those required at work. The future of those already in employment must also be considered: looking across the workforce today, around 11.8 million people (36% of the UK workforce) currently lack the essential digital skills needed for work, and employees will need support to continue learning new technologies as the digital world evolves.

Focusing on individuals currently in training, the challenge facing teachers is what digital skills need to be taught to prepare students for success. But that’s a question that many companies have yet to answer for themselves. According to a recent report from the Professional and Business Services Council (PBSC) and the Financial Services Skills Commission, there is an apparent lack of forecasting of future skills. Few of the employers PBSC spoke to have undertaken any real strategic workforce planning or are thinking about their skills needs beyond one to two years. Companies therefore have a role to play in helping to better communicate to educators what digital skills are needed for the future.

Why is this important?

While finding a job is of course not limited to digital skills, having technological capabilities will open up more job opportunities. Basic digital skills are already crucial for many roles and, especially since the recent shift to virtual working, the number of positions available for those with advanced skills, such as software developers and engineers, has increased significantly. . Since 2014, there have been a 320% increase the number of vacancies seeking Microsoft C# language skills in the legal services industry, and a 1,000% increase in demand for Python in the accounting and auditing industry. These figures underline the evolution of the labor market.

Moreover, digital skills offer the possibility not only to find a work, but to find a sensefuI work. For those interested in technology, having the right skills can create the opportunity to work in a field that helps communities fight climate change or solve health problems. For example, individuals could work on projects similar to that of Sogeti Sweden Geo-satellite intelligence the solution. The offer combines artificial intelligence, satellite imagery and advanced algorithms to produce detailed maps visualizing the progress of spruce bark beetles, which destroy large areas of forest every year. The solution enables rapid management of affected trees. Alternatively, individuals could be part of initiatives such as the “I will always be me” project, led by Rolls-Royce and several project partners. The project uses technology to help people living with motor neuron disease by creating a digital voice that can be used on any speech-assistive device to communicate with others.

What can be done?

Businesses and educators need to work together more closely to ensure future job candidates have the digital skills they need to work. A shortage of digital skills affects all companies in a sector. It is therefore in the interests of companies to share the ideas and learnings needed to prepare students and the existing workforce.

One of the ways companies can help is by actively working alongside educators to help shape the curriculum – so that the skills being taught prepare students for a long and healthy career. An example of such an initiative is Capgemini’s partnership with CodeYourFuture. The nine-month training program for 18+ helps trainees learn real-world digital skills, such as coding, as well as soft skills to promote confidence for employability. In addition to sponsoring places for interns, Capgemini is helping CodeYourFuture tailor the curriculum based on the technology skills the company believes will be needed by the tech industry in the future. An important part of the initiative is that it aims to provide access to digital skills training to those who would otherwise struggle to participate in education opportunities, such as refugees or other people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are disconnected from the labor market.

Another option for educators and businesses is to collaborate by participating in multi-stakeholder initiatives designed to address digital skills shortages. Organizations such as The Digital Poverty Alliance actively seek cross-industry collaboration and knowledge exchange, with the goal of helping organizations share best practices in addressing digital poverty. Their recent Tech4Teachers project, in partnership with Intel and Barclays, aims to fund 550 laptops for teachers across the UK to support disadvantaged communities. Equipping teachers with devices will help them support students and ultimately build their students’ digital skills. The Careers and business is another example of an organization that seeks to connect businesses with educators to equip students with job-relevant skills.

Look forward

The future of work will be heavily influenced by digital advances and the UK is already facing a digital skills shortage. Businesses and educators must work together, in unison, to prepare the workforce with the skills needed for the future – so individuals can access the opportunities they care about and businesses can hire the skills required. Strengthening open dialogue, including sharing ideas that help adapt curricula, is a good starting point.

By Sally Caughey, Head of Digital Inclusion UK at Capgemini

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