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5 Essential Digital Skills to Set Your Apart

The demand for digital skills in the workplace is at an all-time high and now more than ever, developing these skills in the current, progressively digitalised world, can prove greatly beneficial for your professional career.

This significant need for digital-savvy capabilities has seen businesses around the world transforming the way they work. As a result of the rapid technological advancements taking place, they’re influencing how people work, and ultimately what employers are looking for when hiring talent.

This is reinforced by the UK government, through the ‘No Longer Optional: Employer Demand for Digital Skills’ report, which found that at least 82% of online advertised job listings across the UK require some sort of digital skills from candidates.  

While reflecting on our own digital skills, many of us might identify that our skills will suffice for today’s workplace, however, according to a recent study 69% of UK business leaders believe that they have a skills gap amongst their staff, while a whopping 88% of all UK businesses reported that they lacked at least one are of digital skills in their staff. 

But what exactly are those skills that will set you apart from others in the industry?

In this blog we explore the essential digital skills you need to set you apart in today’s working landscape.

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What is the UK’s digital skills gap?

Over the past few years digitalisation has seen some unprecedented advancements, which were further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which left organisations identifying  a new need for digital skills and hiring talent that satisfies those expectations. Based on a report published by the Learning & Work Institute, 92% of businesses stated that having some basic level of digital skills is important for employees, while 76% of businesses say that a lack of digital skills could affect the profitability of their business. 

Contrastingly, Ofcom research found however that 1.5 million homes in the UK have no internet access whatsoever. So, while employers are searching for job candidates with digital knowledge and expertise, candidates are looking for employers who will provide them with that kind of training. 

What does that mean? We’re essentially back to square one where both sides are looking for the opposite things without managing to bridge the gap. Not only that, but the digital skills required by employers are continuously changing in order to keep up with technological advancements, leaving the talent pool unable to skill up and meet these requirements.

Young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are especially vulnerable to digital poverty as a result, since according to the Learning & Work Institute report, 1 in 5 households with children in the UK don’t have access to an appropriate digital device where they can complete their training and gain these skills. 

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Why are digital skills important? 

Technology has played a pivotal role in the work world ever since computers and floppy disks have been around. But with the rising popularity of smartphones and developments such as machine learning, it appears that technology’s significance in the workplace has reached a whole new high. 

Businesses have to stay on top of emerging trends and the changing digital landscape in order to remain competitive, while a huge demand for skills, which didn’t even exist a few years ago, are continuously expected from employees to carry out their day-to-day work tasks. 

Having employees with digital literacy is undoubtedly beneficial for businesses. From streamlining the working process and automating repetitive tasks to free up staff, to building an innovative and collaborative work environment which improves employee retention and satisfaction, digital skills are essentially a must. 

For employees on the other hand, having such skills is vital for acquiring a good paying job, setting yourself apart from other candidates. Regardless however, Lloyds Banking Consumer Digital Index 2020 found that over a fifth of participants (22%) don’t have ‘essential digital skills for life’.

With Gen Zs having digital skills ingrained into their everyday lives since pretty much the moment they were born. Older generations are now beginning to feel the pressure to upskills and keep up, to be able to compete with them for the top job positions.

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Which essential digital skills can help set you apart?

1) Product design

Product designing, in simple words, is a more advanced form of graphic design. It tends to influence how consumers interact with digital products and services. Having UI/UX skills, such as user research, interface design, information architecture and prototyping, in your resume allows you to design and create the online interface and character of brands, which will lead to more transactions.  

With consumers now heavily relying on websites and e-shops to purchase products, brands are required to have a responsive platform, which is aesthetically pleasing and customer-centred to keep consumers interested instead of clicking out and purchasing a competitor’s product instead. That’s why employers are looking to hire talented product designers that will help them achieve brand equity.

For beginners, the BCS Foundation Certificate in User Experience is the perfect qualification to help you gain practical insight into the core UX concepts, tools and techniques and how they can be applied to your organisation and products. 

2) Cloud computing 

With organisations now trying to streamline the work process and save some money, storing data in the cloud is the new practice. Therefore, mastering cloud computing skills, which include information security, programming, machine learning and automation to name a few, will undoubtedly make you an asset to any company that operates with the cloud. 

There are countless free courses available to help introduce cloud computing and how it can be beneficial to organisations currently. If this is something that interests you or is a skill you wish to develop it’s definitely worth researching your course options, as this is a digital skill that can be easily self-taught.

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3) Cyber security 

As mentioned, with many companies now shifting to a more digitised way of work, most companies' assets and confidential information are stored digitally, therefore a need for security is prevalent for all organisations. 

As a result, many companies are looking to hire individuals with cyber security training, especially financial institutions which store and deal vast amounts of sensitive information. Having a background in cyber security will enable you to identify security weaknesses and threats, as well as how you can help improve your company’s cyber security. 

The perfect qualification for newcomers to cyber security is the BCS Foundation Certificate in Information Security Management Principles, which helps you gain the necessary skills to keep your organisation’s data safe and secure. 

4) Business analysis

We currently live in a data-driven world where companies rely on data to identify market trends, their performance and that of their competitors, as well as how they can improve their products and services to become more profitable. 

In a highly competitive industry, business analysts are a vital component for organisations, enabling them to reflect on the data to make strategic business decisions. Their skills include gathering data, identifying patterns, extracting useful information to ultimately improve sales and profitability, making them crucial for companies. 

The BCS Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis is the perfect stopping stone for newcomers to business analysis. The course provides you with valuable insights into the concepts, principles and techniques of business analysis and how they apply to your organisation.

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5) Digital marketing

It should come as no surprise that having a strong digital presence is essential for all businesses to raise brand awareness in this digital age. Acquiring digital marketing skills like SEO, SEM, Analytics, PPC, Email marketing and Social Media marketing will make you a highly sought-after candidate for organisations, regardless of industry. 

Digital marketers are responsible for creating engaging content for brands that aligns with their personality and audience, which is why the CIM Level 4 Award in Digital Marketing Techniques is the perfect bite-sized course for those looking to develop such skills. Through the course you’ll learn how to improve your organisations’ digital marketing presence through a wide range of tools, in order to remain successful. 

In perhaps the fastest growing technological era, finding a new job or increasing your salary with essential digital skills is perhaps the best way to do so. Mastering a few of the above mentioned skills will help you remain relevant in today’s workplace and ultimately achieve a successful and lucrative career. 


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