The Digital Skills Gap

As technology is moving so fast, are we really thinking about how people can engage, understand and adopt new tools? How do we combat the ever-growing digital skills gap in business and personal lives?

In our personal and work life, technology is developing at a rapid pace. Whether it’s the devices we use, the AI devices we allow into our homes, the tools we use at work and apps we use daily. We can often forget about how digital skills develop in this fast-paced world. As a Business Analyst I get the opportunity to assess digital skill gaps in organisations to ensure that everyone has the basic skills to allow them to develop and adopt new tools and technology.

If an organisation is looking to launch Office 365 with their employees they may think that they will just need to train and provide guidance on the new tools and features, but what if the employees do not have basic skills in tools like Excel or OneNote. Often employees just get by with the knowledge they have when using the Microsoft Office suite, but they could be using workarounds or manual processes because they do not know how to complete certain tasks in the tools. One thing that always shocks me when I work with organisations is the lack of employees using OneNote, I am one of these people who has everything held in OneNote from work information, persona development, decoration and design ideas for my house and now wedding notes! OneNote has been around for a while now but I think it has always been brushed under the carpet by organisations because they feel like it will confuse employees or they do not have the confidence or skills internally to provide awareness and training on the tool. If there is one thing to take away from this blog it would be to have a go at using OneNote and ditch the paper notebook and spread the word.

I think it is automatically assumed by most that everyone knows how to use the full Office suite, but this is far from true. Based on my analysis most people have basic skills with Excel and Word due to the amount these tools are used in daily tasks, but PowerPoint and Outlook always scored lower. There is also the fact that there are never usually any reinforcement or refresh training on these tools, this is concerning as the tools are receiving large amounts of development and updated and change regularly. During my analysis of digital skills, it seemed to highlight the lack of development during the length of service in the organisation

As an organisation it would be beneficial to think of these gap that may be present and look at how these gaps can be removed or reduced to allow employees to take on any new skills and adopt new tools. When looking at development of skills and training plans it is vital that continuous improvement is a key focus and refreshers/reinforcement training, guidance or campaigns are put in place to develop employees and ensure they have the ability to increase their knowledge and skills. Studies have shown that employees who attend a single day training course will only remember 20% of the knowledge so reinforcement and refresh is vital to increase the retention of knowledge and skills in an organisation.

Looking at digital skills in personal lives there are so many variances in skills when using smart phones, apps and social media. Anyone who has a good understanding and knowledge of the digital world should be helping those around them. Personally, I try to ensure my family members have the skills they need to get by daily whether that’s keeping in contact through social media, using online banking or shopping safely online. I think we all have a responsibility to reduce those digital skill gaps with the people around us.

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