Technology is transforming at a scary pace, backing the intense speed of digital transformation across all aspects of life and revolutionizing the way that we work. One of the biggest problems is that smaller businesses are being left behind, lacking in the digital skills department – skills that are essential to keeping up with the competition that reap the benefits of today’s digital economy.

What are digital skills?

“Digital skills are defined as a range of abilities to use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information.”

A framework written up by multiple organizations outlines basic digital skills under six areas, subdividing them into life and additional skills for work:

  • Digital foundation skills – the fundamentals of being able to use digital technologies, such as using a browser, connecting to the internet, and keeping passwords secure.
  • Communicating – sending emails securely, using attachments, and participating on social media.
  • Handling information and content – using search engines, being aware that not all online content is reliable, accessing content across devices.
  • Transacting – setting up accounts to use or purchase goods/services online, using different secure payment methods, filling in online forms.
  • Problem-solving – finding solutions to problems using FAQs/tutorials/chat, presenting solutions through software, and improving productivity.
  • Being safe and legal online

 

The big question is – what can be done to get more people online and be part of the digital society and economy?

It is vital to start creating a digital culture in the workplace – and equipping employees with the right skills in order to ensure that your business is being run effectively and efficiently. Providing digital skills training is essential to bridging the digital divide – adapting in order to achieve lasting customer success and profitability.

The advantages of upskilling your employees in the area of digital skills are paramount and includes:

Employee motivation & retention:

One of the unfortunate situations for smaller businesses, is the fact that there is a massive gap between the number of available skilled employees and vacant positions requiring specific skill sets. This causes larger organisations to compete with each other, offering higher, lucrative salaries and additional benefits in order to secure the most skilled employees. This leaves a gap for smaller companies when it comes to being able to either afford or find candidates that are adequately skilled. Thus, offering digital skills training to existing employees is a great option. Professional and personal development is often the main priority for employees. Without it, they can feel unstimulated and demotivated. Digitally empowered employees are good for an organisation; not only because the employees have new digital capabilities; but also incentivized attitudes that can be leveraged as a powerful retention tool.

Increased productivity:

Digital technology can be leveraged in order to assist employees with increased productivity, for instance digitizing paperwork and manual systems. If employees are sufficiently trained in order to harness the newest technology to their benefit, simple processes that usually take up time and effort can be streamlined in order to better the efficiency and productivity of employees.

Increased competitive edge:

Digital revolution is the future of success. It can streamline processes, whilst expanding capabilities. Being able to gain precise insights and translate those insights into actions means that, if leveraged successfully, making use of the latest digital tools and applications assists in developing and maintaining a dynamic competitive advantage. Hence, offering digital skills training to the employees helps in streamlining the entire business process.

 Cost Saving:

Hiring a less skilled employee that is eager to learn and offering them in-house training and development is a lot more cost effective than hiring a skilled employee that have high salary and benefits expectations. Not only does this method lead to increased employee satisfaction and retention – the simple act of motivating employees through skills training can save a substantial amount of money for an organization.