How to upskill for the digital age

How to upskill for the digital age

Are you, like Stephen Hawkins, scared that robots will one day take over? Automation of work is a challenge we’re all facing and the best way to adapt is to understand technology.

The New Work Order, a report by the Foundation for Young Australians, claims that over 50% of Australians will need to be able to use, configure or build digital systems in the next 2-3 years. Digital literacy is crucial for the jobs of the future.

Upskilling for the digital age doesn’t mean that we all need to become experts at everything digital, but we do all need to have a better understanding of how technology works and how to use it.

Let’s look at some of the skills you need to succeed in the digital age:

Coding

The Australian government has invested more than $3.5 million to develop resources to teach coding to children. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull believes that children should be exposed to coding when they are as young as five or six. ‘We need to expose more students to coding so they are inspired to create, build and develop new technologies rather than just being passive users of it,’ he said. Even American artist Childish Gambino raps that we should ‘learn to code’ and tech moguls like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg urge us to do the same:

We can’t deny the importance of code and now, all generations have to catch up. No need to become a pro, but it’s important to understand the language. To get started, plenty of free online tutorials are available, like Code Academy and Khan Academy.

Analytics

Big data has been a buzzword for quite some time, and for good reasons. Organisations are relying more and more on analytics to get insights to use as competitive advantage and to increase productivity. The range of applications is great and there is a shortage of business analysts.

Dr Kok-Leong Ong, director of the Master of Business Analytics at La Trobe University, believes that there’s no better time to study business analytics: ‘Increasingly, I predict you’ll see every company on this bandwagon, saying “we need to do something because otherwise we’ll lose out.” A lot more companies are going to want someone with these skills.’

Social media

Five years ago, job websites were crawling with offers for social media manager positions. But what we’ve seen happening since is social media becoming a job requirement, instead of a job in itself. Blogs like Buffer Social offer interesting tips about social media marketing for newbies as well as for experts.

Graphic and user experience design

Basic graphic design skills comes in handy when it’s time to edit a photo, create an infographic or simply to make a presentation more appealing, while user experience design is a great way to understand your clients or users. With successful brands like Apple and Facebook emphasising that good design is a huge part of their success, organisations are increasingly looking for employees who know design.

50aussiesdigital3smallInnovation

In an ever-changing work place, critical and inventive thinking, as well as global awareness are central skills, especially to climb up the ladder. With work being affected by automation and globalisation, companies need innovative thinkers who can see the big picture.

Dr Fiona McKenzie, Policy Director of the Australian Futures Project at La Trobe, says that we need organisations that can cope with complexity by being able to learn and adapt to changing circumstances.  ‘For those that learn how to thrive in an unpredictable and uncertain world, rapid change and complexity need not be a liability. They can be an advantage. We need to be proactive in building our capacity to make decisions for the long-term while having the ability to successful react and adapt in real time to curve balls thrown our way.’

There are many other useful skills for the digital age, like web design and computer engineering. However, the key to success is not to blindly accumulate skills, but to find those you can embed in your work while embracing ongoing learning and new technologies.

Interested in upskilling?

To use big data to solve the problems facing modern industry, try our short business analytics courses or our Master of Business Analytics.

For a career at the cutting edge of media, look into our Master of Journalism Innovation.