As we see technology continue to advance, the need for digital literacy in the workforce becomes more important. Today more and more employers require prospective employees to demonstrate basic computer skills, such as word processing, spreadsheets, and effective website research, just to get in the door.
This shift in skill sets is not just about adding digital components to traditional jobs, it is also about the creation of entirely new jobs which offer new opportunities for thousands of workers. It is estimated that almost eight in ten middle-skill jobs, which are defined as those that require less than a college degree but more than a high school degree, now require basic digital literacy skills. These jobs represent 39% of the overall U.S. job market and on average pay 18% more than those that don’t require digital fluency. Sadly job seekers who lack sufficient digital skills could get left behind.
However, it not always easy to figure out which digital skills you may specifically need or may not need at all. Perhaps is easiest to think of digital literacy as a language; the more digital skills you have, the better you can speak the “digital language”. There are many nonprofit groups trying to address the problem of digital literacy in the adult population. One of these groups is digitalliteracy.gov, a site overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The site offers links for many resources, with everything from basic computer skills to using software and applications. On a local level many libraries, schools and community colleges offer digital literacy classes.
The digital skills gap should not be something to fear. Rather, it is an opportunity for people of all ages – not just young people – to jump into a new sector or to get a better job at their current company. The good news is that there are ample resources for those who want to learn digital skills.