5 free ways to sharpen your digital skills

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Digital technology is changing not just our personal lives, but our work lives too. And no matter the sector or role you work in, basic digital skills are increasingly a must-have.

Any kind of working - remote or on-site - increasingly calls for new ways to collaborate with shared docs and real-time messaging software. This is true especially during the pandemic, when digital work tools like Zoom have become so key.

Being able to use productivity software like Microsoft Office is also crucial to playing your part in a modern workforce. For many roles, there may also be industry-specific specialist software tools to master.

It can be hard to keep up with how digital technologies are influencing our work and lives. And an estimated 52% of people still don’t have the digital skills they need for the workplace.

The digital skills gap toll

Last year saw more redundancies for workers over the age of 60 than any other age group. One factor in this could be a lack of skills in tools needed to work remotely, like Zoom. Broadly speaking, older generations may not feel as computer literate as younger employees who have grown up online.

The fact is that if you don’t have the digital skills needed for the modern workplace you’ll have a smaller pool of jobs to pick from. This is something we see frequently in our work at HR GO where we help candidates find the best roles for them.

Whether you want to improve your current skills or learn something new, here are five online courses or learning platforms to get a digital boost. As you will see they’re either free, or free for the first month/six weeks.

1. Learn the latest virtual collaboration tools

The modern workplace calls for new ways to collaborate and communicate. If you need some pointers on how to get the most out of working online - especially remotely - LinkedIn Learning offers a Virtual Collaboration Tools course.

You’ll get essential training in tools like Microsoft Teams and learn how to use Zoom for meetings. You'll also get plenty of guidance on time management when you’re working from home.

2. Get up to date on changes

If you want to return to the workplace, you may have a lack confidence in your skills. You'll need to find out how working practices might have changed since you were last employed.

Learning about the up-to-date digital workplace trends is one of three courses in the ‘Thriving in the digital workplace’ from FutureLearn (designed by the University of Leeds, in association with the Institute of Coding).

3. Find the skills you need

The UK government’s National Career Service website has a quiz to help you find out which skills you might be lacking. There are also free courses in The Skills Toolkit to help you improve the digital skills you have.

4 Develop a growth mindset

Digital has had a huge impact on industries, bringing challenges as well as opportunities. To thrive in this new workplace, you need to be able to adapt to these new challenges. You'll also need to have the confidence to keep learning in a world that seems to be rapidly evolving.

Find how to have a ‘growth mindset’ which helps you adapt to the possibilities of digital technology. This course is also on the FutureLearn platform, from the Accenture Digital Skills series.

5. Research the most in-demand jobs

LinkedIn has researched 10 jobs with the most number of roles on its platform that need skills you can learn online. These include sales representative, project manager, IT administrator, customer service specialist and digital marketer.

Together with Microsoft Learn, it’s launched a free learning platform to learn the relevant skills - then the GitHub Learning Lab to practice them.

Upskilling for your future

Back in 2016, government research predicted that 90% of jobs would call for some kind of digital skills within a decade. And with the coronavirus pandemic leading to many employees working from home remotely, we think that time will come a lot quicker.

If you feel stuck with your digital skills, it’s worth developing new tools that you can bring into the workplace, and power yourself up for the modern workforce.

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