Have you used virtual assistants like Alexa or Siri, or probably online shopping apps that show you the recommended products based on your interests? Well, these technologically advanced devices and software were only a part of our imagination or shown in sci-fi movies a decade ago. Fast-forward to today, technology has penetrated more into our lives and changed the way we perceive things.
It is the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution where the technology sector is evolving with Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, cloud computing, blockchain technology, virtual reality, and big data analytics. Every company is embracing digital transformation and automation of business processes is on the rise. Many consider automation as a threat to their jobs as there are many tasks that can be accomplished using software and require minimal human intervention.
Though many jobs are on the verge of becoming obsolete due to automation and artificial intelligence, experts argue that an equal number of jobs will also be created in the future and would require specialized skills. This is the reason digital skills have gained traction and many professionals have realized the need of updating themselves to survive in this dynamic job market. They are taking up short-term online training courses that prepare them for the jobs of the future. On the technical side, courses on data science, machine learning, and big data have become popular and on the management side, PMP course and PRINCE2 certification courses are being preferred.
This need of developing digital literacy was given a drastic push by the COVID-19 pandemic. When businesses, corporates, universities, and all sorts of agencies were forced to shut down their operations temporarily, online businesses were the ones to remain least affected by the situation. For example, educational institutions that already had the online training infrastructure in place were soon able to switch to online learning mode and connect with students. Others faced a lot of issues while incorporating a new learning method that students, as well as teachers, were not used to.
As far as corporates are concerned, digital literacy became more important for managers as now everything was to be managed online. The use of video conferencing for meetings, using VPN for remote work, creating a sense of community, keeping up employee productivity, and other major tasks would go seamlessly only when managers had digital know-how. With a sudden rise in demand for remote working tools, the usage of applications like Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Meet, and Skype skyrocketed within no time. Tech giants are now working to include better features in their tools that resonate with the client’s remote working needs.
Though the restrictions due to the pandemic may have eased in many countries, the new work culture will only be promoted in the future and hence digital literacy is required more than ever. Companies can no longer delay their digital initiatives and need to invest in digital skills training for their employees. This fact is highlighted in The Future of Jobs Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum. Around 43% of businesses surveyed indicated reducing their workforce due to technology integration while 34% planned to expand their workforce for the same. Moreover, by 2025, around 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of machines and humans. However, 97 million new job roles are expected to emerge that would be more adapted to that new division.
The report also shed some light on the ongoing high skills gap. Companies estimated that around 40% of workers on average would require reskilling of six months and 94% of business leaders expect their employees to pick up new skills on the job. Evidently, digital literacy is the need of the hour to keep pace with the changing labor market.
Many have realized this need as we can see a four-fold increase in the number of professionals looking for online training courses to develop digital skills. Online training providers are now offering various courses ranging from personal development, entrepreneurship to data analysis, digital marketing, and machine learning. Professionals only need to understand what skills could help them in their existing job and take a course accordingly.