With digital technologies and AI reshaping the job market, proficiency in digital skills has become a crucial prerequisite for employability – regardless of a graduate’s major. Demand for digital skills will surge in the coming decade as mainstream jobs that have never before needed digital skills begin to do so. According to the World Economic Forum:
Employers estimate 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted by 2028
6 in 10 workers will require training before 2027
45% of businesses see funding for skills training as effective
These changes constitute a call to action for higher education institutions to incorporate digital skills and digital literacy into their curriculum. The IFC Vitae program has collected employability data from 100+ higher education institutions in 23 emerging markets over the past four years, identifying trends in the employability outcomes of graduates and advising institutions on how they can take action.
Colleges and universities who pay more attention to the adoption of digital skills among faculty are likely to be more competitive. Less than 30% of faculty are embedding best practices like creative software and digital media into assessments. Universities can assist faculty in closing this gap by creating more opportunities for faculty to develop digital skills and proficiencies while still meeting their standard job requirements.
Despite the increasing demand for digital skills, most universities only provide common software applications, with a little more than half offering discipline-based software and significantly fewer offering students creative software, emerging technologies, or innovative technologies. Without further investment in digital skills, technology, and literacy, universities risk their graduates being less competitive in this digital age.
For any higher education institution to develop the digital skills of its faculty and students, they need a reliable IT infrastructure. Today, most higher education institutions support core digital learning activities on campus, but student access still needs to be improved. For example, authenticated access to digital devices on and off-campus is essential for colleges and universities to empower students and create the best employment outcomes for their graduates.
Digital upskilling presents an opportunity for universities to:
Grow their course offerings
Incorporate digital skills into their existing curriculum
Partner with local industry to improve the digital skills of students, staff, employees, and communities.
The Deadline for Action is Here
In consideration of both – discipline-based digital skills to meet ever-changing industry expectations and discipline-neutral digital literacy that contributes to graduates’ digital identity, universities are encouraged to articulate their digital learning strategy. The key to a digital learning strategy is to keep it agile by relying on ongoing processes and structures to support the changing environment in the digital learning space.
Overall, a digital learning strategy for a university should be comprehensive, adaptable, and inclusive, reflecting the changing needs and expectations of students, faculty, and society. In this presentation you’ll find several areas to get started.