Essential skills for digital careers

There is very little information available in the workplace or taught at schools and tertiaries on the essential skills needed for digital careers. I don't mean the technical skills, but everything else that makes people do well at work.  These skills include human skills, work essentials for modern business (online, distributed etc), business basics, how to self-manage career growth, how to deal with change, how to reskill, understanding personal motivations and needs, understanding future work and industry opportunities etc. 

Prior to starting work in tech, people are mostly exposed to specific technical skills (coding languages, narrow job skills, limited 'soft' skills) and very little into the other sets of skills that employers find the most valuable. Employers look for skills like technical ability, critical thinking etc but the types of things they value are initiative, career self- management, adaptability, contextual thinking, working remotely, modern feedback, coachability/coaching others etc.  

Once in the workplace, it's not much better. Career development is largely rooted in old ideas of annual reviews, assumptions of employees staying a long time, a focus on permanent and full time staff, and notoriously frustrating recruitment practices. There are pockets of employers doing things differently but they are in the minority. While it's hard for employees to find out these skills for digital careers, it's also hard for employers who are likely to not know the information themselves. 

If we want Aotearoa to be a flourishing digital nation we need to stop thinking digital = technical. We need to look at all the skills that contribute to a thriving digital environment. We need to make these critical skills and insights more accessible to learners, their parents, employers and all types of employees (including contractors, interns) so they can be more effective in planning for and working in tech careers.

Why the contribution is important

Tech is a fast-moving and very broad industry with huge potential that is hard to fulfil because we're all learning as we go and doing this mostly by ourselves. There isn't a common or shared understanding of how to navigate careers in tech. 

Even people who have excellent technical skills can find it hard to navigate the industry. It's way harder for under-represented folk.

Providing insights and by teaching the essential skills for digital careers would limit the time it currently takes for employers and employees to figure things out alone and to learn from their mistakes.  Having modern information about digial careers and learning some of these skills at school, in study or at work would mean people are more engaged and productive, and better able to do good work and to make progress.

by shirley on November 08, 2021 at 02:03PM

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