In my line of work, digital knowledge is not optional and as a thought leader, I often speak about digital transformation and innovation and their effect on the current workforce. Speaking recently at the 4th International Business Research & Industrial Conference organised by Kenyatta University, I had an epiphany that inspired this piece.
I believe every company begins with a vision that identifies who it is. The market is, nevertheless, evolving at the speed of light. Technology advancements and the global economy are upending the commercial world. You can never predict how the market will change in five or 10 years. Who would have predicted that social media would rule the world?
Businesses that want to succeed in the long run must be willing to consider reinventing themselves to remain competitive in today’s quickly changing market. A business owner can make one of the worst missteps possible by refusing to go forward and staying put out of fear that they will lose their unique vision and authenticity.
Change is occurring more quickly than ever and the only way to stay current and remain a leader in your sector is to continuously reinvent your company. Call it reinvention or adaptation. In either case, you must be willing to start over and modify your vision to fit the constantly shifting market. Because business is dynamic, so should your digital reinvention.
Employers need to pursue a path of digital transformation that enables their businesses to experiment, learn, iteratively improve, and swiftly deploy successful projects to market to build sustainable value that adapts and grows with the business.
Notably, in 10 years, 50 per cent of jobs will be changed by automation, 5 per cent will be eliminated and 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills.
Digital transformation is no longer just a trendy phrase. The pressure to adapt to new innovative technologies isn’t just on the employers but also on the employees who must continuously learn and upskill. Public and private sectors and academia must work together to build digital skills that will make students employable in the future. Consequently, employers need to review qualifications beyond the candidate’s academic papers. Creativity and innovation should be a factor during the hiring process. To stay competitive, businesses will need to upskill their people. Armed with cutting-edge skills, workers recognise that they will possess the power to advance within the organization and take their careers to the next level.
How can public, private, and academia work together to prepare the current workforce for this disruption? There is a considerable need to bridge the industry-academia gap to make students future-ready. But then again, the future is already here, and we need to adapt or die. When launching CHARLESON six years ago, I had to take digital skills courses overseas. At that time, few or none of the local institutions were offering the courses.
By equipping students with the necessary skills to meet the demands of a rapidly changing digital economy, higher education institutions need to take charge and put students at the heart of the digital future. In addition to the technical needs that every organization has, especially when hiring new employees, certain skill sets are likely to be in demand across industries such as digital literacy, data literacy, soft skills, creativity, and innovation. Digital skills like computer literacy and data analytics should therefore be taught across all subjects, not only in specialised ICT courses.
As an employer, I sought to make significant changes through a digital skills training academy ‒ Charleson Academy. In this programme, CHARLESON scouts for young creatives from marginalised and less privileged backgrounds, especially those who cannot afford formal education to integrate them into the creative skills academy where their creative minds are nurtured. They are taken through thorough technical and soft skills training to ensure they are viable for employment.
The market for people and jobs is evolving quickly. Non-academic qualities like a desire to learn and adaptability will be in high demand in the job of the future. Employers must therefore go beyond academic credentials and be willing to consider a candidate’s self-learning activities as well as tests of creativity and innovation.
Article written by Steve Muchiri, CEO, CHARLESON