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Digital skills and employability in a transformed workplace

Chris takes a quick look at the issue of employability and digital skills, and how we are preparing college and university leavers to enter a transformed workplace.

The working landscape has changed dramatically over the last year. Many organisations in different sectors have had to adopt new practices with technology and lots will probably never look back. This is the world that we are preparing learners for. It’s a situation that will take time to settle but the trends are becoming clear.

Employers will be looking for college leavers and graduates with proven digital capabilities to adjust to the new environment. In the past, the traditional view of digital skills was based on the idea of familiarity with ICT. Being familiar with productivity tools will always be important but dealing with lockdown has demonstrated that there are other things that are probably more important.

Working with technology, not just operating it

Are our learners able to use technology to work together effectively with colleagues they may never meet, or are in completely different time zones? Can they use digital tools to help them approach problems with creativity and express themselves clearly?

It’s about being able to work with technology, not just operate it.

Jisc’s Digital Capability framework is a great way of understanding the complexity of digital skills in an intuitive way that can be used to frame the digital skills that people leaving education will need. Jisc’s workshop on embedding digital skills into the curriculum will help teaching staff to incorporate these capabilities into their day-to-day teaching practice.

For more ideas, Esther Barrett blogged recently about four ways to ready students for the workplace of the future which showcased our revamped Employability Toolkit, based on work originally undertaken by Peter Chatterton and Geoff Rebbeck.

Preparing students to take the lead

It’s not all about equipping students to get good jobs. The people in college and university now will shape the world of work and society in the future and be tomorrow’s leaders. How are we preparing them for that?

It’s more of a challenge but one of the most important things is for educational institutions to look critically at how they model what it means to engage with technology to be more effective and innovative.

Being at college or at university is often the first experience young people have after school of observing the work environment, even though they’re not actually employed there.

We want them to be shaped positively by the practices and attitudes they observe. Yes, that means how they encounter technology but it’s also about ethics, inclusion, relationships and management style, all of which can be found in the way technology is used.

By Chris Thomson

I'm a Subject Specialist at Jisc focusing on online learning and digital student experience.

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