May 10, 2023
Technology has impacted our everyday lives – from how we keep in touch with old friends all the way to how we do our weekly shop, as well as our work lives. The skills which are in demand are vastly differently to what they were just a decade ago. As a result, we have seen a rise in the incidence of tech-shaming and the current generation has needed to develop a different skillset to what their predecessors had to learn. Dell Technologies found that 56 percent of respondents between the ages 18 to 26 across 15 countries, said “they had very basic to no digital skills education.” A third of them said their education had not provided them “with the digital skill they need to propel their career” and what they know comes from the apps they use on their own time.
Other research supports this, with one stating that one in five young office workers report “feeling judged for having tech issues”, which made them less likely to ask for help, and another finding that almost half of the class of 2022 felt “underprepared” when it came to the technical skills relevant for entering the workforce.
Digital skills are becoming more and more important and the levels of proficiency amongst employees will vary. For the younger generations, it is partially up to educational institutes to prepare them for this. Offering students classes where they can refine their digital literacy skills – regardless of their current ability – is a good place to start. Some students may be able to work Excel documents well, others may not. To help tackle this, education institutions should guide and help students to learn these vital skills; this will make sure that they graduate with the same digital skills as one another.
We cannot assume that all employees have the same digital skills
For the current workforce, the same strategy needs to be applied. We cannot assume that all employees have the same digital skills. To tackle this, workplaces can offer digital skills training when workers first join so they know how to use all the technology their job will require them to. They can also offer refresher classes every quarter or a couple of times a year to help workers feel more confident when it comes to embracing technology, especially when it changes.
Basic digital literacy has become an essential skill, on a par with reading and writing. Our 2030 Workforce Report found that as more jobs require digital skills, upskilling the population is a key priority. This means that the rapid development of technology will mean the workforce are more likely to be working alongside machines.
While this will not present a challenge for everyone, some will need to upskill and require support in accessing that education, whether from their employer or the state. This means companies will begin to look for employees that boast a set of foundation skills that fall into the following categories: digital, cognitive, interpersonal and self-leadership, with the latter including self-awareness, self-management, entrepreneurship and skills.
As a result, the talents employees bring to the table will also need to complement digital advancements. So alongside eradicating tech-shaming, businesses will need to shift away ‘tech-blaming’ – the perception that technology will shove people out of work. In reality, technology will only change the jobs we see today, resulting in the people working them needing to upskill to keep in line with such developments.
Dr Aaron Taylor is head of school HRM at Arden University. He has been involved in teaching and training for over 20 years, both in the UK and internationally. He is a CIPD academic member, a Senior Fellow of the HEA and a certified management and business educator (CMBE).