Creating a Digital Place is one of the three pillars of Stockport’s Radical Digital Strategy. To succeed in this, we need to grow our employment opportunities and ensure our local workforce has the digital skills businesses need to thrive in a digital age. In this blog, Tom Laws, Partnerships Coordinator at the Digital Careers Upskill Programme, talks about Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Skills for Growth initiative, which is funded by the European Social Fund. This fully funded skills training is available to Stockport businesses to upskill and re-skill existing staff, supporting businesses to grow and putting staff in a better position to progress in their careers.
There are many viewpoints when it comes to what ‘Digital Skills’ actually mean, depending on your background and experience, current working roles or access to technology. Some feel as if having digital skills is ‘a nice bonus’ but, ultimately, isn’t really that necessary in the workplace.
Recently, however, more businesses across all sectors are relying on digital products to improve productivity. An increase in online shopping and engagement of customers via social media means it’s becoming more and more vital to better understand how you and your business are placed in the digital landscape.
Improving digital skills doesn’t need to be a daunting prospect; there is no defined entry point. Digital training identifies gaps in knowledge, supports individuals to use products effectively, work smarter and save valuable time, helping to accomplish daily workloads. These skills can be invaluable tools in increasing overall productivity within a business and setting a company on a new path to success.
1 – Employee Development and Retention
One of the key aims for any business is to develop staff and to ensure they are sufficiently challenged in their day-to-day roles to remain engaged. Development opportunities, such as training in new digital competencies, are often cited as a vital aspect of an employee’s overall happiness – which in turn drives personal motivation and buy-in to the company culture.
Technology is striding forward at a ferocious pace, but that doesn’t render the knowledge a person currently has irrelevant – increasing an individual’s digital confidence just adds additional levels to their ability and their desire to push forward with their development.
2 – Communication and Collaboration.
As many have experienced in the last two years, digital communication has been vital in maintaining a thriving business and now that many are back in office environments, it’s important to build on the skills we all developed by working from home, rather than reverting back to the old ways.
Social media and enhanced connectivity across the internet have created a ‘need it now’ mentality within consumers; chatbots and messaging have brought your business into the front rooms of millions, and those millions expect it to be as simple as a few button clicks to get what they need.
File-sharing platforms such as OneDrive and cloud computing allow individuals to make real-time contributions which are seen by everyone. Data analytics tools mean that a target audience’s information is just a click away, and CRM systems make relationship-building easier with intuitive functions to ensure the information you need is right at hand.
3 – Future Proofing Your Company
While embracing digital tools is not a guarantee that your company will be successful in the future, it is a proactive method of placing yourself in the best position to take advantage of the changing face of industry.
Giving yourself and your employees the necessary tools to become ‘digitally literate’ will likely build a core of confidence for when new technologies relevant to your business enter the workplace; promoting a company culture of early adoption allows it to be front and centre to take advantage of emerging fields.
The Digital Careers Upskill Programme can form a vital part of a company’s development and training plan by providing businesses and employed individuals in Greater Manchester access to a wide range of fully funded digital courses. The programme is delivered on behalf of the combined authority under the Skills For Growth opportunity and is designed to upskill and reskill people across the region to put them in a better position to progress in their careers and support businesses to grow.