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How digital learning can help build three key job skills post-Covid

Naomi Rainbow Naomi Rainbow Publisher / Product Owner at Extend Education

13 July 2021

Covid-19 has affected nearly every facet of how we engage with the world, changing how we approach leisure, work and education. Many education organisations have had to adapt quickly and embrace digital learning, often having to find appropriate resources for learners of a mixture of abilities – from digital natives to those with less technological competence. Few would argue that it hasn’t been a challenge for many learners and tutors to adapt. However, many of these challenges have been positive. In The Future of Jobs Report (published in October 2020), the World Economic Forum has outlined the expected outlook for technology adoption, jobs and skills in the next five years[1]. Clearly, the acceleration of change has forced those less comfortable with digital learning and technology adoption to become digitally literate – helping to prepare them for a rapidly changing job market that might have left them behind.

1. Self-management skills

Self-management is one of the prominent emerging meta skills identified by employers as being critical to the jobs market over the next five years.[2] Digital learning encourages learners to become more independent and take responsibility for their learning. Rather than arriving in a classroom in the morning to be instructed and monitored throughout the day, learners have been given opportunities to motivate themselves, manage their schedule, join class video calls at different times and remain focused on work, while being surrounded by the distractions that present themselves at home. This encourages autonomy, a trait that is valuable in a workplace where workers are expected to take responsibility for their tasks and may be left for periods with minimal supervision and guidance.

2. Technology use and development

The pandemic has forced many educational centres and publishers to accelerate their adoption of digital alternatives to traditional learning materials and processes. Publishers have created sophisticated online resources; learning centres have created new ways of teaching; and learners now must join video calls, use shared drives, submit and complete work digitally. The ability to adapt to and understand new ways of working is extremely valuable, with every workplace using its systems to communicate, store data and share information, and the use of technology will only become more commonplace as it develops in the future. The government’s Skills for Jobs White Paper acknowledges that help is needed for people to get the quality technical skills that employers want. In the modern workplace, unfamiliarity with technology will present a major hurdle that few career choices will avoid.

3. Creative problem-solving

Digital learners may no longer have a mentor immediately available to them: online messages can take some time to reply, questions during video conferences can be disruptive or learners may be working during times outside the typical learning schedule. This encourages learners to solve problems on their own, prompting them to reread instructions or use online resources to find solutions, and to approach problems from difficult angles until the situation is solved. The capacity to analyse information, use logic in unfamiliar situations, and apply learning to future situations are skills that are valuable not only in the workplace but also in everyday life, where it is necessary to find information independently but also to analyse what is relevant and accurate. Creativity was named as “the most important skill in the world” by LinkedIn in 2019 – and that is truer than ever as we make the most of our ever-changing situations. There is no technology that can replace creativity.

Digital learning has been a challenging transition for many, but the situation has also set individuals up for success; encouraging the development of key transferable skills that will prove useful in the workplace (regardless of sector) in the years to come.

Naomi Rainbow is a Publisher at Extend Education, an independent UK-based publisher who create resources that challenge and inspire students to become active, engaged and autonomous learners. Extend Educations resources include online courses for NCFE qualifications and on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, along with workbooks for IB Diploma and PYP years.

[1] www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020, Accessed 24 June 2021

[2] The World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs Report 2020, (October 2020) p. 5