Simply put, there has never been a better time to be a data professional.
According to a Capgemini Consulting study, only one in 10 adults feel confident about the digital skills needed for their day-to-day work duties.
This may be a nasty case of imposter syndrome, but it’s more likely due to a lack of training. According to research from Middlesex University for Work Based Learning, 74 percent of those surveyed felt that they weren’t achieving their full potential at work due to a lack of development opportunities. This feeling may soon get worse.
With the rate at which some industries are changing, many more people risk falling behind, widening the digital skills gap even further. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates as many as 100,000 new information technology workers will be needed every year for the next ten years. Currently, though, only about 60,000 of these workers enter the workforce each year.
So what can you do? The answer is in professional development.
Here are four ways that skills training can keep you ahead of digital changes (and help accelerate your career).
It Can Make You More Valuable on the Job
When we think of digital skills, we tend to picture designers and programmers in Silicon Valley. The thing is, every business is now a tech company, with all industries undergoing a digital transformation. In fact, research from the Information and Communications Technology Council shows an urgent need for digital skills in financial institutions, marketing, and retail, among other industries.
“The value-added by ICT workers across all sectors of the economy is expected to intensify over the next five years as businesses adopt new technologies,” the ICTC report says, claiming that this injection of digital skills into other industries will help Canada become a global digital leader.
Think of this now on a personal level. If your company needs, for example, someone to make sense of data being collected, and you are able to bring data skills to the table, you are suddenly a much more valuable member of the team; someone that is now also much harder to replace.
Skills Training Can Make You More Productive
According to the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce, a 10 percent increase in educational development lead to an 8.6 percent gain in productivity.
Companies are starting to catch on to this. Based on the 2016 State of the Industry Report, businesses are providing employees with an average of 32.4 learning hours per year, with spending on corporate training growing to over $70 billion in the United States.
That kind of investment has an impact on the bottom line. According to The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), companies that offer comprehensive training have a 24 percent higher profit margin, and a six percent higher shareholder return over companies that do not provide training.
It Can Help You Meet Industry Needs
In the next two years, the number of available data jobs in the US will increase by 364,000 to 2.7 million. At the same time, companies will be searching for UX Designers, with 87 percent of managers claiming this is their top priority.
These, of course, are not the only areas of high demand. The ICTC research indicates an urgent need for Application Developers, Business Analysts, Front-End Developers, and Product Managers.
Given this demand (and the lack of supply), it stands to reason that anyone with skills and experience in web development, product management, data science, and UX design with have the upper hand when it comes to career advancement, regardless of changes to the industry.
Digital Skills Training Can Protect You From Automation
In the years to come, we will see revolutionary developments in robotics and AI, which will cause huge changes in the world of work. According to The World Economic Forum, five million jobs across 15 developed nations could be lost by the year 2020 due to automation.
This may sound ominous, but there is a reason to believe it will also create new opportunities. After all, during the Industrial Revolution, people thought that steam machines would take away their jobs. Instead, machines improved productivity, increased revenues, and allowed companies to expand, creating more jobs. Something similar may happen again. The Brookfield Institute, for example, predicts automation will create 712,000 jobs in Canada, and that might be a conservative estimate. Think of the new jobs created in the last 10 years – did your mother ever work as a chief digital officer?
Those of us that are ready and willing to diversify skills will be able to capitalize on these changes. The rest, meanwhile, will have to learn to live with their new robot overlords.
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