Amidst the economic disruption and, in many instances, the devastation of COVID-19, there has been one industry that has not been significantly damaged: IT. In fact, demand for IT has dramatically increased. Looking back to the height of the virus, the need for businesses to adapt was, in many cases, not just a matter of remaining competitive but a matter of survival. A Global Executives Survey by McKinsey highlights how many companies have accelerated the digitisation of internal operations and supply-chain interactions by three to four years. The share of their digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a massive seven years. That is an extraordinary rate of advancement.
What this implies for the job market is a real need for technical literacy. There already existed a skills gap before the pandemic, but it has now been amplified and therefore the need to close it intensified. The success of remote working has accelerated the general direction in which the nature of many jobs is headed and those unwilling to accept the reality of a technology-based future could be left behind. On the flip side of that, it offers a massive opportunity for a career with exceptional demand. According to the CBI, there are an estimated 600,000 current vacancies in digital in the UK, so moving into this type of work could offer fast career progression, significant salary expectations and a faster realisation of one’s potential. From an economic perspective, a lack of tech know-how is costing the UK around £63bn a year and digital skills will be vital to recovery post-pandemic. Therefore, the demand for people with these skills, or willing to learn them, is sky-high.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is famously quoted saying, “In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks”. While this quote may not be directly applicable to upskilling since…well, retraining in IT is not exactly a massive risk, it indicates the need to keep moving forward. The problem is that technology can be daunting for many people and often individuals are not willing to embrace change so easily. There can be a perception that technology is complicated and boring; individuals may be worried about their ability to learn and perform. This and other factors can make it appear like an unappealing career path. However, it is the case that many people do not have a clear picture of what the day-to-day reality of a career in technology looks like. Over the years, there has not been enough effort by organisations, government, or the media to reveal the attractiveness of a digital career and there has been a real lack of relatable role models. However, this is soon to change and being proactive and open-minded about riding with digital transformation will bring great benefits.
The need to upskill is not limited to the older generation. The idea that digital natives - the generations of young people who have grown up surrounded by technology - are more IT literate, is widely a fallacy. The assumption that this younger generation are intuitively more digitally competent without training is generally false, therefore people across ages are starting from a similar place. It is vital that barriers to learning are broken down and people understand that digital skills are as intuitive as any other.
Online courses are a great way to boost tech skills and increase one’s employability. Sites like Udemy, Udacity, Coursera and more offer free education which could be a great way to start and get a feel for what aspect to further specialise in. As technological capability becomes a defining factor in many businesses success, they will also need individuals who are digitally competent.
There is a wealth of resources available online to get stuck into, even YouTube offers fantastic content for free that can help you decide what discipline might suit you best, so if you want to add value to your CV, all you must do is put one foot forward.
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