Digital skills are as essential as numeracy and literacy today, so how can we prepare young learners for the digital workplace?
The UK government has said the country faces a ‘digital skills crisis’ with over 12 million UK adults lacking basic digital skills. These skills aren’t just a ‘nice to have’, the lack of them has been calculated as costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP. What’s more, UK businesses seem to recognise the issue exists— three out of four report a digital skills shortage among their employees.
The UK isn’t the only economy facing this challenge either. Looking at Europe as a whole, we find a worrying 44 per cent of citizens lack basic digital skills and 37 per cent of people in the labour force – spanning a wide range of vocations – don’t have sufficient skills in this area.
Digital Literacy at a Young Age
Developing digital skills in young learners is made simpler by the fact that the technology may already be familiar to them. Students of school age have never known life before the internet and switch seamlessly between virtual and physical worlds at home. Schools and education establishments can capitalise on this familiarity by bringing technology into the classroom and making it a seamless part of learning.
Many courses do embrace digital technology but in a recent survey of UK learners only half of those in further and higher education agreed their course prepared them for the digital workplace. The same survey suggests there is an opportunity to broaden the scope of digital learning technology to incorporate tools like video and games, as half of higher education learners said they hadn’t used an educational game, simulation, polling device or online quiz as part of their learning experience.
A wide range of tools can enrich content delivered through virtual learning environments (VLEs) and these can help learners build and develop digital skills. Students can conduct online research, create digital content, test their knowledge through interactive games and quizzes, access a range of multimedia content and track their own progress. Outside the classroom, students can take on broad facts and information from digital resources and use it to inform discussion in the classroom with tutors and peers.
Continual Skills Development
This blended approach of digital and physical tutoring needs to continue throughout all levels of education, into the workplace and beyond. As they leave education, digitally literate graduates will be more confident facing the world of work where technology-based solutions are increasingly relied upon for all manner of tasks.
Through enriched e-learning experiences in the workplace, learners of all ages and abilities can get used to navigating digital content, engaging in online tasks and can generally become more comfortable with digital tools.
Digital skills are arguably as essential as numeracy and literacy today. Industries going through a digital transformation need employees with strong digital skills. E-Learning solutions can help learners build these skills and become more familiar with the tools and techniques now used across job roles and in all our personal lives.