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As the world experiences a new age of digital revolution, various industries are adopting groundbreaking technologies as proof of their metamorphosis into a digital-first culture. While this development is progressing at an immeasurable speed, new challenges are rising to hamper this tremendous growth. This begs the question: what’s the biggest modern threat?

Many would assume machines making human jobs obsolete the ultimate nightmare but that’s not the case. The reality is a little duller but has a tremendous impact on future successes and it’s a lack of digital skills training and development. When the talent pool does not keep up with advances like automation, machine learning and big data, digitalization cannot happen.

This might come as a surprise but there is a digital skills shortage going on around the globe, made even more apparent amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In the US, nearly one in three workers lack foundational digital skills. It is more severe in Europe where 42% or over 180 million of its citizens do not possess sufficient digital skills.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to this issue but there are steps companies can take to ensure their workforce has at least basic digital skills before forging ahead with advanced ones. To begin, here is a checklist of the basic skills they need:

  • Device Setup: Turning a computer on/off | Connecting to the Internet | Logging into work accounts
  • Communication: Using email and text applications to interact with colleagues
  • Collaboration: Uploading, sharing and editing files online via cloud applications
  • Cybersecurity: Understanding security risks such as viruses, unsecured sites and information theft
  • Problem-solving: Discovering solutions via FAQs and search engines | Verifying information

In contrast, the barrier for entry will be higher for advanced digital skills. Yet, this gap can be filled through training courses as they are easily accessible and can help create opportunities for business growth and workforce advancement. By investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives, organizations will be able to accelerate their digital transformation journeys, boost productivity, discover new revenue opportunities, and identify and overcome roadblocks.

The following includes (but by no means limited to) higher-level digital skills pertaining to specific digital technologies that can be utilized in a business:

Big Data Analytics

One of the many aspects that make the digital age distinct from its predecessors is precision. With data being more profound than ever, utilizing digital platforms to derive meaningful insights will help guide companies in the right direction. This skillset enables users to discover high-quality data from large volumes of data, make sense of them and glean compelling business intelligence insights to make informed decisions.

Cloud Computing

Accessibility is key in an always-on world but it can be limited without the right infrastructure. By connecting to the cloud via the Internet, businesses will be able to design, manage and deliver their services in an efficient and effective manner. While cloud computing requires technical knowledge and skills, the platform has everything needed to build and scale customizable digital experiences.

Artificial Intelligence

The term ‘AI’ may sound daunting but it is really all about teaching machines to perform certain tasks, predict possible outcomes, and make decisions based on historical data and market trends. The capabilities of AI can be implemented in virtually anything from search engines to robotics and can endlessly improve through deep learning and machine learning.

Industry 4.0

The main driver of the fourth industrial revolution is digital transformation where the physical world and digital realm connect via the Internet of Things (sensor technology) while being enhanced by data analytics and machine learning algorithms. By recognizing the difference between digitization and digitalization, it will help you understand the forces behind transformative technologies and its application in the real world.

These four technologies represent only a fraction of advanced digital skills available to a company. In the future, the demand for digital skills will only increase as technology would already be further embedded in nearly every aspect of our lives. The mass shift to an online model due to the COVID-19 pandemic has further expedited the need for digitally literate workers as having such a workforce greatly helps businesses transition in a more seamless manner to the digital economy.

It is worth reiterating that having a large percentage of digital skills gap is not only bad for individuals but businesses as well. By providing learning opportunities and creating cultures of continuous learning, businesses will not only innovate at the forefront of digitalization but be in pole position to thrive in the modern world. As such, this will help strengthen the economy, build a resilient workforce, create digital opportunities and foster digital inclusion.