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Creating the next generation of digital professionals

Friday, August 21, 2015

As the Australian digital economy grows at a rapid pace with digital technologies now contributing some $80 billion dollars a year to the local economy, we can no longer underestimate or ignore the effect that the IoT (internet of things) and digital disruption at large is having on traditional industry sectors and the chosen occupations of Australians across the economy.

We are now facing a shortage of skilled digital resources at the global level which can be seen clearly in sectors like Big Data where it is estimated that well over 5 million new roles will be created in 2015 with only one third of these roles actually being filled by experienced candidates.

Add to this the difficulty faced by local agencies and enterprise businesses when it comes to hiring experienced digital media and marketing talent and we may well be looking at a knock on effect where the lack of skilled and experienced digital resources could further delay or prevent businesses from selling to or engaging with consumers in the places they now spend most of their time. (On smartphones, the internet and social media).

So what do we need to do to ensure we have skilled digital professionals in the future?

And how do we ensure that our existing resources are not digitally left behind?

As with all things in digital, the future solution to the digital experience shortfall needs to be both multifaceted and extensive in its reach involving the government, businesses, industry groups and educational bodies who will all need to play a part in putting Australia at the forefront of the digital economy.

Earlier & better ICT education

The next generation of digital professionals will not take the same path as the current generation who have learnt much of what they know on the job.

The next generation will need to come from a position of complete digital literacy, already educated from a very young age in the areas of computing and technical ICT engagement (In line with the importance of reading and writing).

The goal should not just be to make Australian students digitally literate but rather digitally capable to a point where they can use all the technologies at hand to further innovate, create and solve problems. 

More internal training & skills sharing

Those who have current non-digital roles within larger organisations should now be looking to skill up or at the least skill share with those working as digital experts in the same fields.

It is no longer beneficial for any organisation to isolate digital marketing, media or technologies within the business structure as something separate or just infrastructure based.

Additionally those companies and individuals who work on continually skill up on digital technologies, platforms, solutions and marketing activities will be putting themselves at the forefront of the emerging digital economy.

Excepting the non-traditional career path

Many of our future digital professionals will come from a more non-traditional digital career path where their experience may be primarily in other fields such as Media, PR or Marketing.

But their role and career success has come from combining this traditional experience with a passion for and use of digital solutions combined with a desire to expand their knowledge of the digital sector.

It will become essential for companies, recruiters and all employers in the future to look at a person’s wider experience and background with a much wider lens as those who will look to fill the skills gap in digital sector, will more often than not be coming from a non-digital industry sector or a completely different market sector.

The next generation of digital professionals will not only need to be highly educated about the digital sector they will need to be highly adaptable to speed of its change

The shortage of digital professionals in Australia will only truly be addressed if we can work together as a nation to implement the education, training and knowledge sharing required to instil digital as a essential work skill

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