It's a fast-moving, always changing work environment: digital transformation is progressing apace, and employees and organisations are struggling to keep up. In this context, skills learned just a couple of years ago are fading into irrelevancy, a fact that has triggered a growing popularity for e-learning and short training courses focused on digital innovation.
Whilst longer programmes might provide a more rounded, cross-functional perspective, sometimes budgets and time simply aren’t available. Short courses usually last a few weeks and aim to help working professionals future-proof their career by rapidly staying abreast of industry trends and remaining competitive in our volatile and competitive digital economy.
Quickly fill your digital skills gaps
Web and mobile technologies are the ultimate disruptors. They have transformed existing roles and created new job functions - including digital marketers, data scientists, UI/UX designers and Big Data Architects - that simply didn't exist five years ago. And because of the fast pace of technological changes, working professionals may well feel like there are areas of their “new-look job” they don't fully understand.
Completing one or several short courses focused on digital innovation gives you the opportunity to close your skills gaps and become digitally empowered. These courses are by definition short and, in most cases, taken online. So you can immerse yourself in a particular topic, at your own pace, for a couple of weeks or months, and finish the course with a new string to your bow.
Short courses are also an effective way to enhance your CV with transferrable skills that can be applied to a variety of jobs. Courses in areas such as digital leadership and management or computational thinking, are excellent to showcase a wider skill set to your current employer or to a recruiting organisation.
The half-life of skills is rapidly shrinking. According to John Seely Brown, co-author of A New Culture of Learning, the half-life of a learned skill is five years, which means much of what you learned 10 years ago is obsolete and half of what you learned five years ago is irrelevant.
Furthermore, Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report says that software engineers must now redevelop skills every 12–18 months. Professionals in marketing, sales, manufacturing, law, accounting, and finance report similar demands.
The introduction of short courses specialised in digital innovation has emerged as a key tool in employees and organisations' abilities to keep up with the shrinking life spans of digital skills. These short courses feed the continuous need for further development, tuning up of existing skills and acquisition of new capabilities.
Taste-test a new career path
A job used to be the thing you did to make money, a purely transactional act between task completion and payment. 21st century professionals are more inclined to want a job with purpose, or as Stephanie Denning put it in a guest blog post on Forbes magazine, “a career of feeling”.
In the search for this career of feeling, people are job-hopping a lot more than they used to. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, so-called Millennials will change jobs four times in the first decade after leaving college - compared to two job changes for Generation Xers. In a recent Deloitte survey, 42% of respondents said they now believe their employees will have careers that span five years or less.
But changing careers isn't easy. Employers will look for relative experience, and failing that, they will expect that you have the necessary learning achievement certificates. And what if you switch careers but realise it's not for you after all?
Short courses specialised in digital skills can be a way of dipping your toe into a new area of expertise. They can give you insights into what you would need to know, what you could expect from a career in this specific field, and whether it suits you.
Help you transition into longer courses
For some, the idea of going back into the education system can be quite intimidating. You probably still remember the heady days of college or university when exams and assignments came thick and fast. And while you may feel the need to expand your education, you simply might not be in the right frame of mind to do so.
Short courses can be a good stepping-stone. They are focused and targeted, which means you are concentrating on a particular field for a short time frame. You will learn how you operate under pressure – working and studying at the same time – and get a sense of how you could progress your education even further. Who knows, you might find that several short courses or even a degree could be exactly what you need.
By upskilling, you are expanding your own capabilities and expertise. A by-product of this is that you're increasing your potential as employee. Embarking on a short course lets your employer know you're a go-getter, someone who is determined to expand on their knowledge and skills. This type of proactivity will stand out, and could be highly beneficial if there are any promotion opportunities.
Today, developing digital skills is increasingly seen as an imperative for corporates. Digital transformation projects abound in organisations all over the world, but a significant number of businesses say projects are stalling due to a lack of digital skills. A recent survey by Altimeter showed that 31.4% of businesses lack the digital talent and experience among employees and leadership need to drive digitally-led expansion. Without the necessary skill set in-house, organisations will struggle to quickly exploit digital opportunities for growth.
Equipping yourself with the relevant digital skill set demonstrates that you're ready to take part, and even lead, in any digital transformation strategy.
Focus on transformational learning experiences
There's no doubt that short courses focused on digital innovation deliver a wide range of benefits in our AI-driven economy, but you must take your time in choosing the right course. There are so many choices available, including new learning tools such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). But if you're looking to equip yourself with advanced skills in the wide field of digital innovation, be sure to look for transformational learning solutions. This means courses that will provide you with technical capabilities but that will also enable you to harness the fundamentals of digital innovation including agile thinking, digital collaboration, user-centred design, critical thinking and problem-solving techniques.
“Our Professional Certificate and Online Short Courses combine academic rigor and industry expertise via an agile, learning-by-doing approach.” highlights Barry McAdam, Director of Programmes at Digital Skills. “The work-based project experience, intensive group-work assignment, peer learning, and coaching and mentoring sessions that we provide are critical components of our new portfolio. These underpin the industry-relevant and transformational learning experience we deliver.”