The digital economy has been described as the economic activity that materializes due to billions of online connections each day among people, companies, data, and devices.
While it may seem natural to focus on the business implications of the digital economy, it will also have a profound impact on education. So if you happen to be an undergraduate, graduate, or MBA student, you owe it to yourself to understand not only the digital economy, but also how your education will prepare you to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves.
One thing’s for certain. When it comes to education and the digital economy, your odds of success will largely depend on the information and communications technology (ICT) skills you develop during your academic career, both as part of the curriculum and as part of your own initiative to pick up necessary skills, because you’ll fall behind if you’re found lacking.
According to OECD’s Skills and Jobs in the Internet Economy research paper published in 2014, workers more and more need generic and specialized ICT skills in order to properly complete their tasks in the workplace as the World Wide Web becomes increasingly “ingrained in work processes.”
Read on to learn about strategies that will lead you to success as you eventually transition from your studies into the workforce.
Learn your ICTs
It goes without saying that if you want to succeed in the digital economy, you’ll need strong ICT skills.
The OECD report states that young adults, people who have a post-secondary education, and people working in skilled occupations are more likely to possess ICT skills and computer experience than those who don’t fit any of the three aforementioned criteria. The report adds that it’s important for policymakers to integrate these sorts of technology skills into the education curriculum rather than make them course-specific.
In order to position yourself for success in the digital economy, you absolutely need ICT skills. Otherwise, job opportunities will pass you by as others who are more prepared take advantage.
According to Cisco, post-secondary institutions need to teach and empower students to succeed in a workforce where technological change is creating – and destroying – new employment opportunities at approximately “the same rate.” The company adds that there are challenges inherent in preparing students for jobs that might not even exist yet. You can therefore see that colleges and universities have their work cut out for them.
Study employment trends
According to the OECD report, students, educators, and others require data on workplace trends so that people have the skills they need to succeed in the digital economy. This is something that can’t be stressed too much. Without information about trends, you’ll be at a disadvantage.
Some skills require a significant investment of time to acquire, which means that policymakers need to grasp employment trends now so that policies can be developed to help people position themselves for upcoming job opportunities.
While it’s not as easy as it might sound to predict skills that will be highly sought after in the future, the OECD report says that a program launched by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, which collects information on almost 1,000 jobs, provides a look at “worker attributes and job characteristics.” You can use such information to chart a career path in an industry poised for strong growth.
Proactively acquire skills
You need to be proactive about acquiring any skills you believe will help you to succeed in the digital economy, and that is why it’s important to have accurate and up-to-date information about ICT skills needed. While your school will provide you with the opportunity to pick up some ICT skills, you will need to figure out exactly which skills you will need in the workforce. That way, you’ll be able to fill in any gaps as required.
For more information about the future of work, see the infographic Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners?