Digital Skills: Must-have digital skills

Published on 24/04/2024

Digital Skills: Must-have digital skills

Published on 24/04/2024
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Digital Skills: Must-have digital skills

Alongside the growing digitization of the context in which we live, arises the professional need for an increasingly articulated set of digital skills capable of supporting organizations in managing change.

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report, by 2030 nine out of ten jobs will require advanced digital skills; an appropriate combination of technological knowledge and “soft skills”.

What are digital skills?

A first definition of “digital skills” was proposed by the European Parliament in the document Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, of December 18, 2006 which points out the eight key competences for lifelong learning, including digital competence:

“Digital competence involves the safe and critical use of information society technologies (IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is based on basic ICT skills: the use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet.”

ICTs are increasingly present in all professional areas and technological developments demonstrate advances every day, thus affecting digital skills.

The omnipresence of digital transformation is pushing organizations to develop new skills: therefore, it is not a phenomenon that concerns only IT management or technology companies, but a reality for all sectors and areas within a company.

The importance given to the development of digital skills has been so great that the European Commission structured a framework of digital competences for employment “The DigComp framework” defining its essential components through 5 key areas:

  • Data literacy: Articulate, locate, store, manage and organize data, information and digital content.
    Communication and collaboration: Interact, communicate and collaborate through digital technologies being aware of cultural and generational diversity. Knowing how to participate through public and private digital services. Manage one’s own digital presence, identity, and reputation.
  • Digital content creation: Create and edit valuable digital content. Transmit an understandable message through a dedicated computer system, respecting and applying the respective licenses and copyrights.
  • Security: Protect devices, content, personal data and privacy in digital environments, as well as physical and psychological health. Promote the use of digital technologies for social well-being and social inclusion, being aware of the environmental impact of their use.
  • Problem solving: Identify needs and problems for conceptual, logical and responsible resolution.

Breaking down everything that encompasses the acquisition and practice of digital skills in the business sector, it is interesting to make a distinction between hard digital skills and soft digital skills.

Hard digital skills

Hard digital skills, or “Digital Hard Skills”, are basic and specific techniques that define a professional profile. They can be acquired in institutes, schools, universities, with master’s degrees or advanced courses, but also in the workplace, through specific training courses, massive open online courses or small private online courses. It will all depend on the training plan that the company offers to its employees.

Hard digital skills are quantifiable, and usually appear within the competencies to include in the curriculum vitae: knowing how to use computer programs and software packages, knowledge of programming languages, and the ability to use machinery and specific tools for production.

Hard digital skills include technical competencies related to the SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) area, in addition to those of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, IoT, Cybersecurity. So it is important to emphasize the four pillars or components of this SMAC area, as they are part of the skills demanded in the current job market reality.

Social

Within the SMAC technical competencies, it refers to specific knowledge of virtual communication platforms and content dissemination, that is, managing social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc).

Social networks (Social Network) have led to new job titles, even to a whole structure of experts in the field, capable of configuring and monitoring a multichannel social communication strategy according to each organization’s business model.

Mobile

Mobile devices and equipment have transformed the way we work, communicate, shop, etc. They are the main means of interaction in this digital era.

The introduction of connected devices, based on sensors to generate and transmit data, is the basis of new business models and sales methodologies, thus requiring competencies of a worker specialized in the mobile application development sector and interface design: UX and UI.

Analytics

Data analytics allows companies to understand how, when, and where people consume certain goods and services. It is also used as a predictive indicator of future customer behavior.

Analytics became a priority for companies, which is why professionals must know the tools dedicated to measuring, collecting, and analyzing data according to their area of work (Microsoft Power BI, Google Analytics, Apache Spark, Google Search Console, performance management software, HubSpot, etc) and be able to interpret, relate, and enhance databases using advanced machine learning models and algorithms.

Even in human resources management processes, measuring and analyzing data is key to team performance and productivity. Companies rely on automatic measurement software that facilitates data collection and ensures the objectivity of information for subsequent precise and objective performance reports or evaluations. A clear example in the sector is the practice of People Analytics, which has been enhanced by the widespread adoption of technology.

Cloud: Cloud storage

Data storage in the cloud provides a new way to access technology and information, allowing companies to respond quickly to market changes.

Cloud storage offers greater flexibility in the field of infrastructures and applications, but it requires profiles capable of redesigning systems according to new criteria; defining a “Cloud” strategy and assessing its impact on the business.

It requires professionals with skills in designing and developing architectures and applications different from the more traditional ones. In addition to skills in managing and monitoring services based on connected teams.

Cybersecurity

Obviously, in a digitized, connected, and exposed world, there is a need to protect vulnerable data and information, which opens the search for specific profiles to define policies, strategies, and security programs, as well as manage, coordinate, and plan them.

Soft digital skills

This type of digital skills includes transversal competencies, which refer to people’s relationships and behaviors in any work context, allowing the effective use of new digital tools.

Soft digital skills, or Digital Soft Skills, are not learned in university or at work, and are difficult to quantify: they depend on culture, personality, and experiences lived by the individual, are strictly connected to the way of interacting, communicating, and cooperating in a team.

They are those relational and behavioral skills that enable professionals to effectively use new digital tools.

The “HR Innovation Practices Observatory” developed a “Digital Soft Skills” model composed of four categories that seek to define these soft digital skills, essential within the current work reality:

Knowledge Networking

It is the ability to identify, save, organize, evaluate, and share information available online through social networks and virtual communities.

  • Navigate, search, and filter data, information, and digital content
  • Evaluate data, information, and digital content
  • Develop digital content
  • Integrate and rework digital content
  • Manage data, information, and digital content
  • Share with digital technologies

Virtual Communication

It is the ability to communicate effectively, coordinate projects, and manage one’s own digital identity in digital environments.

  • Interact with digital technologies
  • Collaborate through digital technologies
  • Manage digital identity
  • Visual content structuring

Digital Awareness

Being able to understand the correct use of digital tools with due attention to the balance between professional life and personal health.

  • Protect devices
  • Protect personal data and privacy
  • Protect health and well-being

Self-empowerment

Having the necessary knowledge and mastering digital tools to solve complex problems through conscious use of digital tools.

  • Identify needs and technological responses
  • Identify digital competence gaps.

Acquiring digital skills is now a prerequisite for optimal career, professional, and personal growth. Fortunately, nowadays technology is much simpler and accessible, but it is necessary to understand its potential in order to reap its benefits.

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