Digital skills and young people

Digital skills and young people

Article by Claude Calleja published on on 3rd May 2020

The more a person knows about technology, the more attractive they become for an interviewer, stresses Claude Calleja, Executive at the eSkills Malta Foundation.

“Digital literacy means empowering people with a variety of technologies so they can think more creatively and easily learn to handle any new computer language, program or device they may encounter.

“As young people prepare for the workforce, they should continually expand their knowledge of emerging technologies, as this will help future employers to consider them as being easier to train.

“The ICT Career Exposure Experience week has this in mind and tries to bridge the gap between secondary school students and the industry of today.”

The eSkills Malta Foundation has a key determination of bringing more young people up to speed on coding and other digital skills. Initiatives such as the “EU Code Week”, “Digigirlz” and “Code like a Girl” aim to connect digitally educated young people with jobs.

The “Malta ICT Skills Audit” is another initiative by the Foundation that gives a snapshot of the digital and ICT skills and competences as required by the industry. This should help youth who are considering an ICT career, or perhaps already employed, in confirming whether his current skills need updating.

The Audit promotes the use of ICT tools at all levels of education and ensures, among other things, access to education and research for people with special needs. The goal is to finally create a large cohort of ICT professionals who will meet global competitive demands.

Over the past decade, cross-industry companies have digitised their processes. Already, companies are using artificial intelligence to streamline workflows and supply chains. In this article, we discuss the top digital skills that young people should have in their portfolio to meet the needs of the industry.

Basic digital skills are generic ICT skills required for nearly all jobs. They include digital literacy, curiosity and love of learning, web research, online communication, adaptability and cognitive flexibility, use of professional online platforms and digital financial services.

Mid-level digital skills are skills that include digital graphic design and marketing, desktop publishing and social media management, both for job and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Advanced digital skills are necessary to create, manage, test and analyse information and communications technology and the big data generated by it.

They also relate to technology development, including coding, software and application development, network management, machine learning, Big Data analysis, the Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity and blockchain technology.

Soft skills are skills necessary for effective collaboration in the digital economy. They include teamwork, leadership, communication and client focus, among others. These skills have become crucial in the digital industry and unfortunately not as easy to find as one may think. Many times soft skills differentiate between one prospective employee and another to the extent of tipping the choice towards employing one rather than the other.

For the interested student, training for further advancement exists in Social media marketing, Youtube marketing, Search engine Optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), e-mail marketing, cyber security and social media policy. At the end of the lessons, a learner is given an internationally recognised certificate confirming the successful completion of their training.

Some of these courses are tailored to make the young people fit in the fast-changing work environment, and moreover can be taken online through the comfort of their home.

“The youth that are fluent in these digital skills and are also looking for roles in the new work environment will have a clear advantage over their peers with little or no knowledge in such skills.

“Businesses around the country are crying out for people with the right digital talent. This talent sits squarely within the young generation. It is therefore critical that young people do all they can to make the most of these skills and use this to show employers the value they can bring – not just to their businesses but to the future of the Maltese economy.”