We attended a Digital Leaders network meeting at Lancaster University yesterday with lively and enthusiastic colleagues. It was focussed on the Digital Employee but, of course, became a much wider discussion looking at the digital workplace and the supportive role Digital Leaders at all levels need to play.
The challenges of digital inclusion and a realistic estimate of the state of digital literacy were brought into focus by a short presentation by Steve Morse from the DWP who talked about some of the skills support and facilities at Jobcentres. The fact that an increasing percentage of jobs are only advertised online (Steve mentioned 25%) and many can also only be applied for online, means that the possibilities for digital disadvantage are growing daily.
One of the key questions highlighted ahead of the event was:
“What are the digital skills needed in today’s fast paced working environment?”.
This was underlined by a short presentation by Andy Thornton from Merseylearn, who talked about the accelerative technological change we are living through and its transformation of expectations – both organisational and individual.
There seemed to be broad consensus that employees will get left behind if they lack digital skills, but a point I made is (I think) crucial – the digital skillset is less important than the digital mindset. Accepting that we all of us must aim to continuously and unceasingly develop is the way to ensure the adaptability and agility that the digital workplace requires. It is no longer a finite task, the technologies and softwares are not fixed, the systems and networks evolve daily
The House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills report (19/2/2015) “Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future” recommends that Digital Literacy is taught a core subject in schools as well as being embedded across the curriculum. This carries with it an urgent obligation to ensure a breadth of reach that includes not only the engaged pupils but also those who are already disadvantaged, excluded or disengaged. A significant connected challenge is to nurture open, creative and systematic approaches to the adoption and appropriation of the fantastic tools and technologies available to us.
As William Gibson has said (quite a few times)
“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
We all have a role to play in enhancing Digital Distribution.