You might be able to avoid the digital revolution at home – snubbing Kindles in favor of books and smartphones in favor of landlines – but in the workplace, it is becoming harder and harder to get away with a limited knowledge of technology.

Once, simply knowing how to use the Microsoft Office suite would have been enough, but today, there is an emphasis on expanding employees’ digital skillset much further. In 2015, the House of Lords stated that digital skills should be taught as a third “core subject” alongside numeracy and literacy.

Millennials and Generation Z, for the most part, have grown up with digital technology literally at their fingertips. But for members of older generations or young people who grew up in less well-off households, these skills cannot be taken for granted. Training professionals must be keeping this trend in mind.

The customer journey has changed.

One of the biggest factors driving the increasing importance of digital skills is that the buyer’s journey has changed. Historically, consumers were served disruptive ad messaging via television, radio or print advertising. Today, they hold the power, seeking out information to help solve their problems online, discovering the solutions and choosing the best one.


This shift has placed huge importance on the ability of organizations to market themselves online to ensure they’re reaching this new breed of consumers. Of course, to do this, your organization needs to boast a range of digital skills, from being able to upload content to your website and social media to an understanding of search engine optimization (SEO).

Digital Immigrants versus Digital Natives

Many experts now consider digital skills, or digital literacy, a completely new language. The more you learn, the more fluent you are. This comparison led writer Marc Prensky to coin the phrases “digital immigrant” and “digital native.” People who are new to digital skills can feel as though they’re entering a new country. Unless they work to become capable digital immigrants, they risk being left behind by an increasingly digital workforce.

So, what are some of the most important digital skills with which you should be arming your employees?

Cloud-Based Software

Many, if not most, businesses have made the switch from the traditional Office programs to either their cloud alternative (Office 365), Google Docs or other cloud-based programs, which offer more functionality in terms of collaboration. In fact, according to the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud report, 85 percent of enterprises are operating with a multi-cloud strategy.

Although some of the differences between these cloud-based platforms and their original offline counterparts are subtle, there is still a distinct difference in how they operate. This software does not require a huge level of technical expertise but will become a prerequisite for new starters at more and more organizations.

Multi-Device Capabilities

Modern employees need to be able to use more than simply a desktop computer or laptop, with many organizations providing smartphones, tablet devices and two-in-one laptops to ensure their workforce can work on the go as well as in the office. Although traditional skills with desktop computers and laptops are often transferable to these other devices, it can still take time to learn all of their functionalities.

Social Media

Although social media is primarily a marketing channel, employees from other departments are also often asked to help with it, especially in smaller organizations. A 2015 study conducted by Social Media Today found that a whopping 91 percent of brands use at least two social channels, while 2.2 billion active users of social media provide a rich opportunity for brands that get this part of their marketing strategy right.

Basic Coding Skills

According to job search website Indeed, the fastest-growing keywords in online job postings are “HTML5,” “iOS,” “Android” and “mobile app.” Being able to manipulate a website’s code is an increasingly sought-after ability, but it actually doesn’t require a huge level of technical understanding to learn the basic HTML tags and how they work.

By arming all of your students with a broad range of digital know-how now, you’ll be future-proofing what they can offer in an increasingly connected world.