What are Digital Skills (And How Can HR Bridge the Gap)?


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Friday, February 2, 2018

In today’s online, ‘always-on’ business culture, we’re more accustomed than ever to hearing about digitalization, and how it impacts businesses. Employees must hone their existing skills and develop new ones in order to keep up.

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What are Digital Skills (And How Can HR Bridge the
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With this in mind, we’re looking at how HR can help its workforce to bridge these digital skills gaps, and more importantly, why anyone who doesn’t is more likely than ever before to be left behind.

In today’s workplaces, digital skills are already highly valued, and employees who proactively take steps to develop their existing skills and learn new ones will give themselves a real advantage over their co-workers. However, the future of business is constantly changing, and while these skills are valuable now, in the future, they will be nothing short of vital.

As technology advances and consumers are becoming increasingly clued up, businesses will have to truly harness the power of digital technology to ensure they stay ahead of the crowd, reach their target audience and boost their brand in the best, most effective way possible.

Most businesses have already taken steps to prepare for digital transformation, from offering training to existing employees to enable them to better do their jobs, to creating new roles which depend entirely on a digital skillset. With the majority of consumers and businesses using the internet as their go-to for research, it’s easy to see why employees with a strong digital skillset are now in high demand.

Digital skills vs digital literacy – what’s the difference?

We’ve already noted that many organizations are taking measures to ensure that their workforce is ready for the ever-evolving digital world, but it’s also important to note the difference between digital skills, and digital literacy; and most importantly, it’s crucial that businesses and HR teams offer employees the chance to develop an understanding of both.

It’s no longer enough for employees to know how to use social media, analytics tools and technology, but they must also understand the concept of why a particular platform or piece of software should be used, when it should (or should not) be utilized, how it can be adapted for different audiences, and what the overarching goal is – and this is the simple difference between digital skills, and digital literacy. The two go hand in hand, and HR must offer the opportunity for employees to learn both in order for the business to be successful.

How will this change the workplace?

In addition to learning new digital skills and understanding the thought and decision process behind each new skill, the Internet of Things and Big Data are also becoming more mainstream within the workplace, and it’s important to look at and understand how this will impact businesses further down the line. There are four main areas of understanding which are crucial for any business when it comes to digital skills and technology, and these include understanding how to;

  • Improve customer experience
  • Improve business efficiency
  • Enable employees to accomplish tasks in a fulfilling way
  • Use skills for social good

In order to fully benefit in each of these areas, many organizations will turn to leveraging data; its analysis, assessment, interpretation and application, to be more precise, and this is when it will be essential that the workforce has the necessary digital skills to be able to do so; as the Internet of Things continues to grow, the raw data it provides will be invaluable for organizations, so a workforce equipped to deal with and manipulate this data will be crucial.

How HR can help bridge the skills gaps

When it comes to training and upskilling employees, HR functions will always have a key role to play. From identifying where the skills gaps lie, and planning ahead for where the organization wants to be in the future, HR teams can work to implement initiatives to ensure that the right staff receive the right training for the job.

Whether this is by offering in-house training or by providing external learning and courses, HR professionals will be best placed to ensure that the workforce continues to develop alongside the business, and that both existing and new employees have the necessary skillset to deal with the job.

HR departments are key in helping organizations look to the future, and working with employees to give them the necessary tools to contribute effectively. From identifying current workers who can be upskilled to recruiting new employees with the necessary skills, HR professionals will play a vital role in driving businesses forward in today’s digital marketplace.

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