The United States has often been described as a place where the possibilities are limitless and anything can happen for those willing to work hard. Most of the credit for our boundless horizons goes to our unique political system and rule of law.
Along the way, however, some of us tinkered around and came up with nifty inventions. Some were straightforward creations, like Benjamin Franklin’s swim fins, which incidentally earned him a posthumous induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Some inventions were just simple mechanical tweaks to existing devices, such as Thomas Jefferson’s “swivel chair,” which enables us to do a day’s work without ever standing up. Eventually we got all the way to the smartphone, which proved that you really could cram a computer into a phone. Whatever the invention, the result has been a forever changed world.
As the world changes, we need to change how we do things. “Digitalization” is the term for the spread of digital tech into every aspect of our work and personal lives, and every one of us needs to embrace this change. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution “the acquisition of digital skills has now become a prerequisite for individual, industry, and regional success.”
Being digitally skilled is especially important for those without a bachelor’s degree. The report points out that nearly 90 percent of accessible “good” jobs now require high- or medium-level digital skills and that “entire segments of the economy are [effectively] off-limits to people who lack basic digital skills.”
Currently, more than 32 million workers hold jobs that are classified as highly digital, nearly 66 million others hold positions that are moderately digital, and 41 million jobs require only low digital skills.
Since 2012, nearly two-thirds of the jobs created in the United States require either high or medium-level digital skills. It’s the same with job transformation where even established jobs like teaching, construction and nursing increasingly require digital skills.
High levels of digital skills bring some significant advantages, such as increased pay for skilled workers and the “potential for an expanding economy.” The downside is that workers with low digital skills will lose out as they find themselves replaced by machines that do the job more precisely, faster, and at less cost. The occupations most at risk of being phased out include cashiers, tellers, drivers, fast-food and so forth.
While the degree and speed of digitalization varies widely across industries and occupations, it is relentlessly occurring and the only way to ensure your future is to acquire digital skills. You don’t have to worry about being a highly-skilled IT pro in the beginning.
Just start with the basics like Desktop Pro and pick up the ability to use the three most common Microsoft Office applications: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. From there it’s an easy step up to PC Pro to learn how to install, manage and secure computer hardware and master OS environments.
Technology is an ever-evolving arena. Just as the gas-light pushed the candle industry aside, and was in turn pushed aside by the electric light bulb, IT is changing every aspect of our lives. Resistance is futile. It’s time to embrace the change.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin once invented a donut with creme filling, but ate it before he could publish the results of his research.